For the last few years, an Earl Sweatshirt Christmas concert in Santa Ana, California, has become sort of a tradition, though each time it’s billed differently and features ever-changing stage decorations and cohorts. This year was perhaps the barest in visual eye candy and special guests, but Earl made the experience worth it by debuting five new songs for the young, attentive audience.
Otherwise, the show couldn’t seem more laid back for the Odd Future rapper, who has kept a low profile since canceling tour dates over the summer. Friends dribbled a basketball on stage behind him while he rhymed, showing his trademark wit at every musical pause. If anything, the show’s opener, Vince Staples, would make anyone seem low key with his incendiary, stage-diving set. The juxtaposition of two performers, one with everything to prove and the other with nothing to lose, couldn’t have been more defined.