Odd Future/OFWGKTA, Brixton Academy, London
Leslie Feist, Apollo, Manchester

Their music may be the vile splurge of a disturbed brain, but in the wreckage of a chaotic show, there are signs of hip-hop greatness

The alluring mystique of the collective has always loomed large in hip hop. Perhaps it's the illicit thrill, in some listeners' minds, of the imagined connection with gang culture, or maybe it's just because it's easier for rock fans to get their heads around the idea of a "band". Nevertheless, no rap group has truly broken big and stamped their identity across the planet since the heyday of the Wu-Tang Clan nearly two decades ago. Until now.

Odd Future, aka OFWGKTA or, in longhand, Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, are the unconventional, multi-tentacled entity from Los Angeles who have been bubbling away on the underground for about three years, but who have gone properly ballistic in the past 12 months. The similarities with Wu-Tang Clan are striking, right down to the "Wolf Gang! Wolf Gang!" chant (echoing "Wu-Tang! Wu-Tang!").

Their nominal leader is 21-year-old Tyler Okonma, aka Tyler, The Creator. The clown prince of the group but also their most intriguing character, it was he who appeared in a crown on the front of the NME last year, with the gormless expression of a slack-jawed simpleton.

The group also includes singer Frank Ocean, whose Nostalgia, Ultra mixtape recently emerged to much acclaim, and, perhaps most promisingly of all, prodigious rapper Earl Sweatshirt (who is still only 18). But it is Tyler who's the focus and it is he who performed "Sandwitches" (sic) on the American talk show Late Night With Jimmy Fallon wearing a green balaclava with an upside-down cross on the forehead. And he's the one screaming "Fuck! I don't wanna be myself!" on YouTube.

The OFWGKTA sound, often involving ominous chords and out-of-synch beats, has earned comparisons with Nineties horrorcore, but their insanely prolific discography is too diverse to pin on one subgenre. In any case, what has caused the most discussion is their lyrics. Tyler has been condemned for his constant use of the word "faggot" and the repeated depictions of rape, as in the oft-quoted line from "Tron Cat" that runs "rape a pregnant bitch and tell my friends I had a threesome". Yet ultra-sick laughter is Tyler's only aim. Yes, this is the vile splurge of a disturbed brain. But if you censor it, you lose everything that's great too.

And great it often is. Take "Yonkers", a nihilistic howl from a fatherless childhood, in which Tyler tugs at the heartstrings with "Fuck the fame and all the hype, G/I just wanna know if my father will ever like me", then threatens to "stab Bruno Mars in his goddamn oesophagus".

The whiff of controversy has attracted the hipster crowd in their droves – mainly white Shoreditch students in pedal pushers and trucker caps. The shame isn't that white people are listening to OFWGKTA, but that, on their big arrival in the heart of Brixton, black people aren't. But what can you do?

Another shame is that the collective have yet to learn much in the way of stagecraft – for too much of the show they huddle around one central table. Not that the crowd mind. The smell of weed doubtless adds to the amiable atmosphere, and everyone chants every word of every track. Which is just as well, because the sound is atrocious.

What will emerge from all this chaos? The optimist in me gives them two or three truly great albums before it all falls apart. But we'll have to pay. Odd Future used to give their music away, but they are refusing to send advance copies of their latest effort to journalists, and tonight beg us to cough up for the pleasure of hearing it. "None of that download shit. We need the money!"

The mystique of the collective hasn't done Leslie Feist any harm, either. Part of Canada's loose Broken Social Scene set-up, Feist is a serial collaborator, having first flickered on to the radar as one of Peaches' backing group, licking motorbikes and dragging up as a male trucker for the queen of electro-punk's shows. Since then, the Nova Scotian folkie has emerged as a force in her own right, largely due to the Top 10 success of her song "1234" after it was featured in a 2007 iPod Nano ad.

But 2007 is a long time ago, and the Manchester Apollo is undersold. Surrounded by enough musicians to populate an entire Broken Social Scene, she's a diffident presence, and almost internalises every syllable, as if to emphasise their often-private nature, while the music engulfs her words.

For "River", Feist vanishes, leaving Appalachian-style female harmonists Mountain Man to do all the work. When she returns, they appear at a loose end, swaying like sea anemones.

Support act M Ward, of She & Him fame, joins her for an encore of The Jesus and Mary Chain's "Sometimes Always", and, before long, it's all over. With utmost perversity, Feist doesn't even perform "1234". Manchester, you don't know what you didn't miss.

Music Choice

Kylie Minogue celebrates 25 years in pop by playing B-sides at Manchester Academy (tonight and Mon) and Hammersmith Apollo (Tue).

The Futureheads launch their album Rant starting with an in-store at Banquet Records, Kingston (Mon).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Anthony Hopkins in Westworld

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rock and role: Jamie Bell's character Benjamin Grimm is transformed into 'Thing' in the film adaptation of Marvel Comics' 'Fantastic Four'
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Katie Hopkins veered between sycophancy and insult in her new chat show
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
In his role as Hamlet, Benedict Cumberbatch will have to learn, and repeat night after night, around 1,480 lines

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Belgian sexologist Goedele Liekens with pupils at Hollins Technology College in Accrington
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The rapper Drake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The gaffer: Prince Philip and the future Queen in 1947
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Style icons: The Beatles on set in Austria
film
Arts and Entertainment
By Seuss! ‘What Pet Shall I Get?’ hits the bookshops this week
Books
Arts and Entertainment
The mushroom cloud over Hiroshima after Enola Gray and her crew dropped the bomb
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Elliott outside his stationery store that houses a Post Office
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Rebecca Ferguson, Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible Rogue Nation

Film review Tom Cruise, 50, is still like a puppy in this relentless action soap opera

Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams in True Detective season 2

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Off the wall: the cast of ‘Life in Squares’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Books And it is whizzpopping!

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future