SZA Caps Triumphant Return of Tyler, the Creator’s Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival

Bringing a stripped-down version of her SOS Tour to the grounds outside Dodger Stadium on Sunday night, SZA closed out Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival — the two-day music festival curated by Tyler, the Creator — with a stylish and soulful flourish.

The performance was a victory lap of sorts for the singer-songwriter born Solána Imani Rowel, her first since her nine Grammy award nominations — a record this year — were announced on Friday.

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Pulling from her critical and commercial 2022 smash album SOS, her 2017 debut CTRL and various other sources (her 2018 Black Panther soundtrack duet with Kendrick Lamar, “All the Stars,” plus covers of Dojo Cat’s “Kiss Me More” and Drake’s “Rich Baby Daddy”), SZA writhed in giddy delight, her voice as strong as ever. She even mounted a silver ball suspended in the air for her rendition of “The Weekend.”

Peering out from the headlining Camp Stage at the sold-out crowd of 40,000, peacefully gathered in the name of good tunes and good vibes, the 34-year-old artist acknowledged the event was much larger than she had imagined in her mind. Its chief creator, Tyler, the Creator, stood similarly in awe just 24 hours before, when he followed his set opener of “Lemonhead” with a heartfelt acknowledgment of gratitude to the fans who’d returned to the event.

“COVID fucked us. Didn’t leave a towel, didn’t call to see if we made it home safe, just fucked us. But three years, later, y’all still care to come, and this truly means the world to me,” the 32-year-old rapper-producer said before launching back into a raucous performance which involved flame throwers and a junkyard set of stacked auto wrecks.

Saturday’s festivities included appearances by breakout Ice Spice on the Flog Stage — a spirited set hampered by sound issues — and Kevin Abstract, who wore a T-shirt that said “I Love Someone Who is HIV Positive.” Colombian-American artist Kali Uchis delivered a Las Vegas-worthy show featuring an elaborate, two-level set bathed in rose hues and an appearance by her “Worth the Wait” collaborator Omar Apollo.

But the big draw that night was the debut performance of The Hillbillies, consisting of Kendrick Lamar and cousin Baby Keem, which included many of Lamar’s solo hits (“Humble,” “M.A.A.D City”). And a deliriously happy Tyler, the Creator joined them onstage for an impromptu hoedown. A Hillbillies merch booth on the carnival grounds offered $180 hoodies and a $400 soccer jersey — being a hillbilly ain’t what it used to be.

Elsewhere on the grounds, Flog Gnaw revelers rode classic carnival rides like the Yo-Yo and Himalaya and shopped at the Golf Wang store — Tyler’s clothing line, aka the words Flog Gnaw backwards — for special festival merch, most of which was sold out by Sunday night.

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