(Photo courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment)
UC Berkeley

Concert Review: Tyler, The Creator is unmatched in his ability as an artist and performer

A Tyler, The Creator concert is one that melds artistry with moments of chaos. His “IGOR” tour is a monumental one with the evolution of his artistry.

There’s the Tyler we see on the surface. The persona we see is always prepared to make a snappy, completely capitalized tweet to expertly critique those who dare cross him. He’s witty, undeniably funny, and insults staunchly severe. 

What makes “Igor” transformative is how nearly everyone, fans and critics alike, were stunned with his intentional honesty. The album has been critically and commercially admired, winning a Grammy for Best Rap Album.

Song “Earfquake” had climbed the charts with streamlined ease. With the release of his latest work, his songs fully embraced vulnerability in the face of heartbreak. The project is a creative reiteration of his abilities, soulful meditation on the fragility in lieu of formerly biting lyrics. 

At the surface, it’s easy to be blinded by this internet famous persona able to deliver humorous, virulent attacks. With his blunt comebacks or hilarious captions, it deluded onlookers that we were able to understand Tyler, The Creator as a whole. That we knew him because of the collective laughter we’ve shared because of his antics.

He lulls his fans into this sense of safety, to only bombard their comfort with a powder blue suit-clad figure. Coupled with the unconventional outfit choices, his formerly cutting lyrics are traded in with soul-baring hooks that are just as painful to experience. 

It’s only fitting that his stage at The Bill Graham Civic Auditorium is filled to the brim with ostentatious displays of his eccentricity. It’s the type of show to leave you breathless, refusing to lessen its hold on your attention. 

He plays with serenity and mayhem as though he was an expert in meddling with these two emotions. Opening act Blood Orange is serene, displaying a visually stunning backdrop accompanied by soulful vocals. 

Yet, when Tyler reaches the stage, it’s deafening. He’s introduced to the crowd with the reverberating intro of “Igor’s Theme” that threatens to blow out eardrums, simply blinking at the crow from a raised stage for the introduction.

The entirety of the show feels theatrical. It’s like watching a play being put on by a figure with the bright blue suit and icy blonde wig, rather than a concert of an acclaimed artist. There’s nervous energy moving through the room, breaths held in anticipation for what could come next, what could be thrown at the crowd next. It’s intensely dramatic, meant to keep the crowd at the edge of their seats without allowing a breath of relief. 

In many ways, this was an impressive feat that only Tyler could achieve. He commanded the stage with the help of nothing more than the flopping blonde wig and his own piercing vocals.

During “Running Out of Time,” a dreamy track with a glittering electronic beat, Tyler’s simply snapping in place without much choreography or movement because his presence is enough to carry the show and leave the audience enraptured. There are no backup singers, nothing else on stage beside the props and himself. He moved like the music has a vice-like grip through his body, erratic with wobbly steps and wig bravely surviving the multiple jolts and jerks of his head.  

The audience is given a prominent role in his show. He relies on the crowd to sing, react, and listen to his interjections throughout the show. He gives concert-goers the permission to end “Earfquake” after a dramatic piano rendition of the hit. After the stormy interludes of “911/Mr. Lonely,” Tyler screams, commanding the throng of listeners to sing along to the lyric “I’m in love” while he performs “IFHY.” 

The audience explodes with ferocious energy after hearing the first few notes of 2013’s “Tamale.” The extreme explosions and fire effects employed onstage seemingly emboldened the pit of fans into fighting each other, bumping into one another violently.

Tyler swiftly moves from this disorder into revealing the origins of the track “Yonkers.” He prefaces the story by revealing an ordinary drive to San Francisco had resulted in life-changing moments. “Guess what?” He asked the audience. “Kanye tweeted the video of this shit.”  

While giving us permission to sing, and follow along, viewers are constantly reminded that Tyler is ultimately in control of the night’s events. “Can I switch it up?” he inquires before telling us to “sing this s*** at the top of your lungs.” While he encourages the crowd to make noise for opening acts Goldlink and Blood Orange with a touch of excitement embedded in his voice, he adamantly states that the same energy shouldn’t be reserved for him.

“I don’t need y’all to make noise for me because I’m tight as f***,” he explained in the midst of dizzying flickering lights. 

tyler the creator kelly 2 Concert Review: Tyler, The Creator is unmatched in his ability as an artist and performer
(Photo by Kelly Nguyen)

During “What’s Good,” he controls emotions expertly, going from erratically moving onstage to silencing any noise automatically to the tune of the words “I see the light.” 

“Are We Still Friends,” he howled into the microphone, letting the music move his body every which way, the energy equal to a stage with backup dancers. He’s jumping, yelping, and it’s overwhelming the amount of passion that found its way to the stage. As the final notes of the song come to a close, he bounced to the sway of his Anna Wintour-Esque blunt-cut blonde wig and exited the stage. 

Tyler, The Creator is as brilliant as an entertainer as he is an artist. With the “Igor” tour, he doesn’t lessen the intensity of the singer the internet has grown to love. While trying to get us to understand a new side of him, he offers up an electrifying show looking to old parts of himself while embracing the new.