×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Concert Review: Tyler, the Creator Electrifies With Newly Transformed Persona

There came a point, naturally for most any longtime fan, of utter and somewhat awe-inspiring incredulity during Tyler, the Creator’s concert this past Thursday night at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco.

For some, it could have come the moment he appeared on stage, casually walking out in shades, a pink and red suit, and a blonde Anna Wintour-bob wig. Stock-still in front of a shimmery silver curtain, he posed under the roar of a packed house and the droning opening note of “Igor Theme,” before eventually exploding in motion and setting the house off.

In 2019, this is Tyler, the Creator: an unironic full-on character — not played for laughs, but an alter ego from “IGOR,” his latest album — jumping, contorting, wailing for a boy who has driven him love-crazy, a boy, he sings, that is as dangerous as a gun.

On Thursday night, the 28-year-old rapper’s thoroughly electrifying show was a striking display of one of music’s most stunning artistic transformations in recent memory. The version of Tyler, the Creator that burst onto the scene as a teen early on in the decade — a perpetually mischievous leader of the rap collective, Odd Future, that would create a new paradigm for a generation of hip-hop — felt at times like an improbable, deceptive memory. For the majority of the show, this newer iteration of Tyler took fans instead through the journey of the doomed, if sonically lush, love story that is “IGOR.”

The record, released in May, is the stellar follow-up to his opus “Flower Boy,” which in the summer of 2017 signaled a sudden and wholly unexpected shift for the rapper. Gone, at least in part, was his youthful bombast, replaced instead by a shimmering, daydreaming revelation of vulnerability and of queerness.

The more recent “IGOR” offered a sharp-edged concept album on unrequited love, largely shedding raps for a gorgeously polished, instrumentally focused record that Tyler produced on his own. It was his most cohesive project yet and confirmation of an artist operating on new creative tiers.

This much was evident in the masterfully calibrated experience of Thursday night’s show. Among multiple backdrops shifted, he orchestrated tension with delightfully calculated transitions — literally grunting slowly into a beat drop for “New Magic Wand” and teasing “Earfquake” with a gorgeous piano rendition before letting the hit song itself take over an intensely pulsating crowd. At the Bill Graham, every attendee knew the words throughout the night.

The full night was wonderfully diverse, including sterling opening acts in rapper GoldLink and singer Blood Orange, who also brought out Toro y Moi for a cameo. But the night was undoubtedly Tyler’s.

At times gliding and grooving and at others kicking and screaming, Tyler was explosive and mesmerizing in character. Notably, he virtually never addressed the crowd, even in between songs, during the first half of the show as he focused on a tour through “IGOR”: it was a carefully orchestrated immersion into the world of his latest record.

It wasn’t until he began turning toward his early-career songs that Tyler spoke to the crowd. “Oh, y’all like that old s—-, huh? You stupid b—-,” he said, jabbing wryly at his audience after a performance of “Yonkers,” his very first, nearly decade-old breakout hit that was chock-full of willfully offensive lyrics. Old Tyler, it seems, dies hard.

The “IGOR” experience, though, provided the most breathtaking parts of the night. Ignorant of the audience and performing as if possessed on a largely spare stage, Tyler commanded the crowd effortlessly as a veritable, if unlikely, superstar in a blonde bob. In the latter portions of the show’s stage setup, a video of Tyler’s performance was projected onto intersecting layers of shredded curtains, intentionally creating the intriguing effect of a cut-up vision of Tyler: a version of the monster of “IGOR,” a reflection of a shape-shifting figure.

The show wound down with “See You Again” from “Flower Boy,” as Tyler addressed the crowd in the song’s closing moments before stepping onto an elevated platform to sing and sway into an exit with “Are We Still Friends?,” the closer from “IGOR.”

“San Francisco, I want to thank you for a great show and s—,” he said, while thanking Goldlink and Blood Orange. “Make some noise for y’all selves. I don’t need y’all to make noise for me. I know I’m tight as f—.”

Concert Review: Tyler, the Creator Electrifies With Newly Transformed Persona

More Music

  • Rudy Lopez Negrete Returns to CAA     

    Rudy Lopez Negrete Returns to CAA

    Rudy Lopez Negrete has rejoined CAA as an agent in the Music Touring department, specifically focused on leading brand partnerships for CAA’s Latin music clients. He will be based in the company’s Los Angeles office, where he will work with Latin artists including Enrique Iglesias, Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Becky G, Isabela Merced, Luis Fonsi, Mon [...]

  • Sonos Spotify partnership

    Sonos Speakers Get Free Spotify Streaming

    Sonos owners just got access to another source for free music: The smart speaker maker has struck a deal with Spotify to stream Spotify’s free tier to its users, both companies announced Tuesday. Free Spotify streams are going live on Sonos devices with the latest Sonos software update, which also includes an updated version of [...]

  • Labrinth Inks With Columbia Records

    Labrinth Inks With Columbia Records

    British singer-songwriter-rapper-producer Labrinth has moved over to Columbia Records in the U.S., the company confirmed today. Labrinth (real name: Timothy Lee McKenzie) is known as a solo artist, as a member of the supergroup LSD with Sia and Diplo — which released an album, including the hit single “Thunderclouds,” earlier this year — and as [...]

  • Garth Brooks, Randy Travis and Carrie

    Randy Travis Emotionally Saluted by Garth Brooks, Carrie Underwood at ASCAP Awards

    A tribute to Randy Travis provided the emotional highlight at the ASCAP Country Awards in Nashville, where the singer was being feted with a special award, as were Hillary Lindsey and Brothers Osborne. Among the competitive awards, Ashley Gorley set a record among Nashville tunesmiths by winning songwriter of the year for a historic seventh [...]

  • Eminem’s Violent 2009 Lyric About Rihanna

    Eminem’s Violent 2009 Lyric About Rihanna Leaks

    Last week, a snippet of a 2009 song containing a violent Eminem lyric about Chris Brown’s assault on Rihanna leaked, and on Monday the full reference track surfaced online as well, according to XXL. Several reports say the verse was originally recorded during the sessions of Eminem’s 2009 album “Relapse,” although a different edit of Eminem’s [...]

  • Scooby Doo Ella Louise Allaire Martin

    Scooby-Doo Live Theater Tour Is Goofy Dane's Latest Adventure

    From its 1969 start as a Saturday morning kids mystery cartoon series “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” starring its titular, talking Great Dane and his four teenaged friends, has made adventure its staple. Once Hanna-Barbera’s successor, Warner Bros. Animation, took the leash, Scooby and company became a comic book, a board game, a series of video [...]

  • Concert Review: The Black Crowes Reunite

    Concert Review: The Black Crowes Shake Their Moneymakers at First Gig in Six Years

    At their first concert in six years, the Black Crowes made a rollicking return last night at New York’s Bowery Ballroom. Formerly feuding founders — and brothers — Chris and Rich Robinson have put aside their differences for the sake of a 46-city tour celebrating the 30 th anniversary of their debut album, “Shake Your [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content