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THE HILLBILLIES - Camp Flog Gnaw (2023)

I don't know how I've gone this long without seeing Kendrick or Keem. I was supposed to photograph one of their shows back in Vancouver in 2022...

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THE HILLBILLIES - Camp Flog Gnaw (2023)
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Date
December 3, 2023
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6 mins
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After rushing back to the mainstage from Clipse, it was obvious to me that I had lost my spot to photograph the concert. The way Camp Flog Gnaw was set up was that there was nobody else performing while Kendrick Lamar + Baby Keem were on - meaning massive crowds. 

During Tyler the Creator's set, I was in the crowd pretty close up, snapping away with a telephoto lens, but even with a 600mm lens, I wasn't able to capture the Hillbillies. I knew it was over when The Hillbillies started the set bumping, 'family ties.' I'd never been in such a massive sea of people all jumping around together, it was something remarkable to experience (view below). 

I did what any sensible person would do in that situation and enjoyed the show.

I don't know how I've gone this long without seeing Kendrick or Keem. I was supposed to photograph one of their shows back in Vancouver in 2022 (when I was there for The Weeknd), though sadly, I could only afford to stay there for a few days. Lebron James even showed up to the concert in Vancouver in quite a strange turn of events.

There were two stand-out moments to this set; the first highlight for me was the performance of the track, 'The Hillbillies.' The track's visuals were shot at Dodgers Stadium (Flog Gnaw's Location) and acted as a teaser for what was to come, even before the festival announcement. Tyler the Creator even made a cameo in the music video months ago. Kendrick & Keem had never performed the song live until tonight.

Another stand-out moment was The Hillbillies incorporating several beat switches while alternating through their hits. These beats were rock-infused and varying from their studio originals, which added a lot of variation to the set. 

I spent so much time listening to good kid, M.A.A.d city growing up and seeing tracks like 'Backseat Freestyle' and 'Money Trees' live was something special. On the flip side, aside from his hits, I haven't dove into the works of Baby Keem. I really enjoyed 'HONEST' and 'Orange Soda,' and I need to make an effort to dive into his deeper cuts. 

I tried to leave the grounds a little early to beat traffic but kept getting pulled back to watch more of the set. There was a small hill I had to climb, and when the songs changed, I would stop, watch a bit, walk a bit, and repeat the cycle over and over again. 

I ended up leaving at the end of the set...

Seeing the crowd from an elevated perspective with that many people jumping at once was a spiritual experience. Saying this soberly, it looked like some sacred geometry or unspoken law of the universe. It's like looking at the organization of an ant hill, a flock of birds flying together, or the movement of water flowing in the ocean.

Really, what else is there to say? I saw two legends perform on one of the largest stages, at one of the most hyped festivals of 2023, and they killed it.

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