Musicians are barely getting a slice of music industry revenue, largely eating off of live performances instead. For ’Tour Tales,’ we dig into the rider requests, delayed shows, diligent preparation, and future of touring by talking with the multitude of people that move behind the scenes. Record executives, photographers, tour managers, artists, and more all break down what goes into touring and why it’s still so vital to the livelihood of your favorite artists. What happens on tour stays on ‘Tour Tales.’
Mike G, one of the founding members of Odd Future, saw the group’s influence in ways most people never got the chance to. “We were at Newbury Comics in Boston (on May 12, 2011) doing a signing. Early on, our signings were crazy with lines going for blocks,” Mike G told REVOLT. “I believe Hodgy, Tyler and Left Brain got on the roof and it was pandemonium after that. Once people saw them, they went crazy. The news showed up and all of that. People just flooded the street.
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” Mike G discusses Odd Future opening up for Nipsey Hussle in 2009, Earl Sweatshirt’s surprise appearance at Hammerstein Ballroom in 2012, and how the pandemic affected his shows. Read below.
What was the first Odd Future live performance you remember?
The first that I was part of was with Nipsey Hussle and was either in Hollywood or North Hollywood. It was really early in the process. That might’ve been 2009. Earl [Sweatshirt] was there. It was Odd Future opening for Nipsey Hussle. Tyler always had a fanbase and whenever he dropped a song, everybody would gravitate to it. Even though we didn’t have a lot of songs to out, we each had a song to perform. The “Earl” video was out. “French,” “VCR” and stuff like that were out. So, there were Odd Future fans there and it was a wonderful thing to see. There were enough fans to not make us look awkward in front of Nipsey Hussle fans.
What did you notice about your early performances and what’s changed?
What’s stayed the same has been my stage movements. I used to do spin moves, and was able to maneuver around everyone and not bump into them when there are 12 people. That’s something I’ve always been good at. I was also very introverted, timid, and shy. My parents would say seeing me onstage was like seeing two different people. I’ve got better with connecting with the crowd.
What was the first Odd Future performance that showed you the group was major?
A moment when I knew it was a serious thing was towards the beginning when we had a show in New York (on November 8, 2010) and a show in London at The Drop (on November 5, 2010). Those were our first shows in each of those places and they both sold out. I was in West L.A. at the time going to community college. I went on tour and I never went back to school.
The Hammerstein Ballroom performance in 2012 is the most iconic Odd Future performance. What do you remember about that day?
That entire day was great. We were on a press run and being able to go through that with them, as everybody carries each other through, it was an unexplainable experience. We had the XXL photoshoot and shot the “Oldie” music video at that shoot. Our guy Lance Bangs had it the next day.
That was a one-shot video. Was that planned?
That was not planned at all. They decided to play music. They played the song and we had Lance Bangs there filming. We were dealing with the people at the photoshoot. You know how young we were back then, so they weren’t able to contain us. They didn’t want us to shoot the video because it was disrupting the photoshoot. That’s why you see Tyler at the start of the video say, “F**k what they’re talking about.”
Back to Hammerstein show. The moment that made it iconic was Earl’s surprise appearance. What was it like being onstage for that?
It was an experience to watch myself. I wasn’t certain, but he was there. You had the highest hopes of wanting him to perform. Then, he comes out and it’s his first time at a crowd of this magnitude. He’s the golden child.
Frank Ocean rarely performs, but he was there, too. What was your early connection with him on tour?
On that tour, we came from overseas and he had a leg of his tour that aligned with ours. We were on tour with him because he was on tour at the same time. Going to his shows was an experience. He was on fire at that moment.
What was life like on that Odd Future tour?
All of that s**t is a blur. The tour bus with Odd Future is unexplainable. Everyone is their own personality. The fact that it worked means you couldn’t ask for much less. I sleep at the most random hour, so I’d be up at hours no one else would be. I always rationed my weed and that was a great asset of mine because they would blow through theirs. We were young, so we stopped somewhere at this smoke shop in middle America and decided to buy random weapons. I got sharp, steel throwing cards, knives, and stars. Hodgy [Beats] got a machete. We just so happen to get pulled over. The cops find weed and weapons on the bus and it looks crazy.
What’s the most memorable show?
I hold those shows so close. Made in America  is one because JAY-Z was standing at the side of the stage. After that, I saw his style change, he started to dress like me. Also, the first Odd Future Carnival when Lil Wayne came out. We had it at the Staples Center, so my dad was upstairs where most of the parents were and Dr. Dre happened to be up there. My dad told me my song was the only song Dr. Dre stood up for, so I always hold that close. The biggest thing was opening for Eminem at Wembley Stadium.
Did you get to meet Eminem?
Nah, I wish. He’s a ninja. He’s evasive.
What was the most interesting fan reaction you’ve experienced?
The biggest one was getting chased through the mall in London. Rihanna was there at the same time. It was a big ass crowd watching her. She might’ve been launching a perfume or something, but that was before I was obsessed with her. We were in town in London. No one was paying attention to us until Rihanna was out of the picture. When people started getting wind of us, we had to split up. I was running with Taco through the f**king mall. That was the biggest reaction.
Also, we were at Newbury Comics in Boston (on May 12, 2011) doing a signing. Early on, our signings were crazy with lines going for blocks. I believe Hodgy, Tyler and Left Brain got on the roof, and it was pandemonium after that. Once people saw them, they went crazy. The news showed up and all of that. People just flooded the street.
What is it like performing at a Cannabis Cup?
That’s a wild lane switch. Coming from the rowdy ass, punk rock crowd at the Cannabis Cup, I can perform my chill ass songs and they’ll be moving around. Those songs work better in those environments. They’re stoned and they’ll stand there, but Lil Wayne will go to a Cannabis Cup and flip out because the crowd’s not f**king with him. I love it, though.
How would you describe a Mike G performance?
It depends on the scale. At a Camp Flog Gnaw performance, where I get to use every asset I have, it’s an experience in itself. I get to have dancers, a band, and I try to ramp it up to its most potential. I like to have fun and leave a lasting impression.
What’s on your rider?
Once they started spreading rumors of people requesting green Skittles and s**t, I had to try it out a little bit. It’ll just be like white socks and D’usse.
How has the pandemic affected your plans?
I had a couple of small shows planned. I was going to release more music and do small, intimate shows with my band. I was going to make my stage show more close-knit. I had an art exhibit. I was getting back into deejaying. It was a blow in the plans.