Willow Smith at The Roxy Theater (Noor Aldayeh / L.A. Times HS Insider)

Arts and Entertainment

Concert Review: Tyler Cole and Willow Smith Mystify Los Angeles at the Roxy Theater 

A little over two years after the release of her album “The 1st,” Willow Smith jumped back into the music scene this past July with the announcement of her self titled album “Willow.” In 2015, Smith came out with “Ardipithecus,” an album which established her unique style as an exciting blend of alternative and R&B,…
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/nooraldayeh/" target="_self">Noor Aldayeh</a>

Noor Aldayeh

October 8, 2019

A little over two years after the release of her album “The 1st,” Willow Smith jumped back into the music scene this past July with the announcement of her self titled album “Willow.”

In 2015, Smith came out with “Ardipithecus,” an album which established her unique style as an exciting blend of alternative and R&B, as well as introducing the public to the deeper inner workings of her mind.

Alongside the new album’s release, it was announced that Smith would embark on a small promotional tour around the United States alongside Smith’s co-writer and producer of the album: Tyler Cole. While both artists have an impressive tracklist in terms of their previous musical pursuits, as a duo they were able to create something truly magical.

They produced the album purely on their own, and showed an inordinate amount of skill in doing so. The flow and overall tone of the album is groovy and laidback, covering the likes of alternative, R&B, and even some reggae sounds. The lyrics capture an intimacy into Smith’s life that gives each track something one could personally relate to.

One of the few stops on their tour was Los Angeles, California, and on Aug. 5 both Cole and Smith made their way to The Roxy Theater. Some excited fans had been queuing for more than seven hours for the event, creating an increasing excitement for the night to come. 

Tyler Cole mid-jump during his set (Noor Aldayeh / L.A. Times HS Insider)

Cole was up first, and he played a selection of songs from his Tyler Cole project, including his newest single “1000%.” Cole’s energy onstage was magnificent, and although he wasn’t accompanied by anyone else, he was truly able to outperform himself. 

What was perhaps the most endearing moment of his set was when he jumped off stage to sing “Bad Vibes” amongst audience. 

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“There comes a time in a Tyler Cole show where I feel like… I wanna connect with y’all, I wanna share something that I’ve created with you guys,” Cole said. “I wanna be with everyone, I wanna feel the energy, so let’s open up the pit.”

Soon after that dynamic opening, it was Smith’s turn to shine. Her band began with an angelic introduction, soon followed by the opening strums of “Like A Bird,” the first song on the album.

Smith’s setlist was comprised of the entirety of her new album, a bold but ultimately very appreciated choice by the looks of the audience. In terms of stage presence, there are no words more fitting for Smith than captivating and mystical. 

Smith interacts with an excited fan (Noor Aldayeh / L.A. Times HS Insider)

Smith sang with a passion that was almost tangible, and it was hard not to feel completely enraptured during her moments of vulnerability onstage. Songs that particularly stood out in this regard would be “Female Energy, Pt. 2” and “Samo Is Now.”

Considering Smith’s age, so much of her music contains themes of growing up and reflection that are especially relatable to a young adult audience. In the same right however, she also has a very real wisdom that far exceeds her age and allows for her music to be relevant to any age group. 

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In an exciting surprise, Smith brought out her brother Jaden Smith to perform “U KNOW,” the intense track on “Willow” that he has a rap feature on. Watching the siblings interact onstage added a whole new element of connectivity and wholesomeness to the already authentic performance.

Not only are both artists influential and incredibly talented in their own right, but in their work together they are able to reflect a deeper familial connection and shared appreciation for music that is simply amazing to witness in person. 

Following “U Know,” we heard the final track of the album “Overthinking IT” followed by an outro. Not surprisingly, fans stayed and cheered enthusiastically for an encore, which they did receive. In a perfect wrap up of the night, Willow and Jaden performed their hit song “Summertime in Paris.” 

Jaden and Willow embrace after their performance (Noor Aldayeh / L.A. Times HS Insider)

Ultimately, this album was a perfect encapsulation of Smith’s current insight on a variety of relevant experiences in her life.

Her lyrics capture struggles that many fans could find themselves relating to, as well as an understanding of the greater implications of these ideas in the grand scheme of the universe. Musically, it flows beautifully and has added new stylistic elements to Smith’s repertoire. 

Accompanied by Tyler Cole and Jaden, the entire night was one filled with energy and raw talent. With a few festivals and hopefully more shows planned in the future, it will be incredibly exciting to continue to follow the growth of these performers. 

Willow’s Setlist:

  1. Introduction
  2. Like a Bird
  3. Female Energy, Pt. 2
  4. Time Machine 
  5. PrettyGirlz 
  6. Samo Is Now
  7. then (interlude)
  8. U KNOW (ft. Jaden)
  9. Overthinking IT
  10.  Outro 
  11.  Encore: Summertime in Paris 
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