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We Saw Yung Lean at Art Basel With Miami’s Craziest Chicken Man

Why did the chicken cross the road? Because he heard Yung Lean and the Sadboys were storming Basel Castle.
El Pollo Loco and Egg Bro with an obligatory Arizona Iced Tea 

El Pollo Loco isn't just any party chicken. In Miami, he's the only party chicken that matters. People know him by many names—El Pollo Loco, Pollo Tropical, the Funky Chicken, or simply, the Chicken Man. His mother knows him as Carlos Bello. The 21-year-old has been hitting Miami's nightlife scene in his Party City super-chicken costume for nearly three years. He's practically a local hero, instantly recognizable with his egg-yolk yellow feathers and berry red cape. Maybe you even remember him from his cameo in the Ultra 2013 recap video.

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This year, there was no chance in hell that El Pollo Loco was going to miss Basel Castle—one of the most anticipated parties at Art Basel this year, thanks to headliners Yung Lean and Mike Will Made It. Every year since 2010, local promoter The Overthrow has packed all manner of drunk young people into a legitimate castle on the edge of the Wynwood Arts District. Technically, Mike Will was the bigger draw, given that he's produced every relevant hip-hop track from the past two years, but no one seemed to give a single fuck. Everyone we talked to was there to see Yung Lean. In line, someone was like, "What time does Yung Lean go on?" and I was like, "12:35" with a swiftness. Then we laughed and high-fived and were best friends forever.

I arrived during Amtrac's set of ghetto bangers to find El Pollo Loco mobbin' in the crowd with his best bruh Andrew Jones, AKA the Egg Bro. Jones has been Bello's sidekick for about a year, so in this case, the chicken came before the egg. (Womp womp.) We hit the bar while Amtrac grooved on Coolio and Souls of Mischief. Turns out the chicken costume idea hatched three years ago during a Halloween trip to Gainesville, where Bello was visiting for another hobby: professional debating. A few months later, he decided to wear it to a rave in Miami, saw how it made people smile, and decided to keep doing it. Now, he feels weird if he doesn't show up to a party in feathers.

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Next up was Baltimore synth-pop band Future Islands, who've been topping the Best Album lists this year with Singles. Future Islands sounds like an alternative-universe version of The Cure where Robert Smith is a born-again hardcore singer. The frontman Samuel T. Herring has these crazy rubber-legged dance moves that even Letterman was obsessed with. Whatever. They were not the Sad Boys, and Chicken Man had been clucking about this tiny castle yard since 6PM. He was losing it, sweating bullets under that down.

We decided to take a breather, wandering around the live spray painters and hitting the bar again. We rejoiced when we realized they were pandering to Yung Lean fans by selling Arizona Iced Tea. As soon as Future Islands finished their set, I decided I wanted to be close enough to Yung Lean to taste his tears, so we made a beeline for the stage. Some dudes dressed like 90s movie hackers were preparing the stage with upside-down crosses and laying long-stem white roses across the DJ booth. It was going down.

As soon as the Sad Boys Yung Gud and Yung Sherman approached the deck, people started weeping. Melancholy chords erupted into the night sky, and the boy wonder moped out in an all-white ensemble, including a jacket nobody has any business wearing in 80-degree Miami. Lean was backed by Gravity Boy Bladee on stage, but in a very, very sad turn of events, Yung Lean's mic basically didn't work for his entire set, not even on "Hurt." People just shouted the words themselves to make up for it.

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They'd keep switching mics, and you'd sometimes hear Lean shouting out a verse or going, "Hey, hey," during down time, but everyone felt pretty robbed of his vocal stylings. Still, we turned all the way up as Yung Lean creeped around like a true Internet gangster, throwing out new material like "Kyoto," "Volt," "Ghosttown," and "Sandman."

He finished the set with "Yoshi City," a personal favorite, so I threw my shit at my friends and jumped into the mosh pit. As we were pushing people around and being as angry-sad as possible, who should we fall into but the Egg Man himself! We were so stoked to be reunited. When Yung Lean tossed a final handful of thorned roses into the pit, Egg Bro caught one and gave it to me. Aww. So sad, so beautiful, so hurt.

When Yung Lean and his sad crew exited the stage, most people just dipped the fuck out, because really, how is it supposed to get any better? I was hoping for a Miley or Rae Sremmurd sighting, but all I got was Mike Will and about twenty of his friends jumping around on stage pretending to rap along to hits "No Lie," "Bugatti," and "No Type." In a weird turn of events, Mike Will didn't bother DJing or doing pretty much anything but cut his own songs short. He had a woman DJing for him, which is cool because chicks deserve spotlight, but not cool because who the fuck cares about Mike Will Made It pretending to rap? The energy was kind of lame, and got even worse when the bass dropped out and the mics stopped working entirely. Everyone responded by just talking to each other about Yung Lean.

I was kind of stoked when Basel Castle was finally over. What was left of the crowd flooded the streets, and I walked hom singing Sadboy songs and smelling my thorny rose. Chicken Man and Egg Bro dipped out too. They went to get some chicken and waffles. Let that shit sink in.