Tyler, the Creator quite literally brought the fire to a packed crowd at Capital One Arena Monday night with an electric and dynamic performance highlighting his 2021 album “Call Me If You Get Lost.”
The Grammy award-winning rapper built up anticipation as he was raised through the stage in a 1939 Rolls-Royce luxury car at the start of the show and sustained his signature intense performance energy throughout his hour-and-a-half-long set, which featured songs from each of his six albums. Littered with comedic quibbles with the audience in between his songs, Tyler’s show encapsulated the bizarre and exciting vigor that propelled him to stardom.
R&B and hip hop musicians Kali Uchis, Vince Staples and Teezo Touchdown each performed as opening acts. While Teezo and Vince kicked off the show with noble set and light design, Kali’s stunning vocals and choreography positioned her performance as the stand-out among the openers.
Emerging onstage alongside a trio of backup dancers, Kali’s mere silhouette illuminated the stage. The R&B pop singer flawlessly performed hit songs like “telepatía” and “Dead to Me,” evoking well-deserved cheers from the audience whenever an instrumental break began.
During Tyler’s performance, the stage was furnished with a green house, accompanied by silhouettes of brass musicians in the windows when trumpets or horns were played in the songs. Tyler performed songs like “WUSYANAME,” an R&B-inspired banger featuring YoungBoy Never Broke Again and Ty Dolla $ign, as he transitioned from his new album to older works.
Tyler split his performance across two stages, gliding on a yacht through an open path in the crowd from the main stage to a secondary stage adorned with tumbleweed-like shrubbery, surrounded by the enthralled crowd in the pit. The crowd erupted and recited lyrics as he rocked some of his most iconic songs, like “Boredom,” “See You Again” and “Yonkers.”
When Tyler returned to the primary stage, the pyrotechnics came alive as towers of flame erupted during his performance of “Who Dat Boy” and showers of sparks down poured just feet behind him as he sang the groovy hit “EARFQUAKE.” Tyler illustrated his ability to connect with his fans when he sang the last verse of “EARFQUAKE” a capella, using the crowd’s clapping as a beat for the spontaneous and stirring moment.
Before starting a performance of what he called his favorite song – the brilliantly eccentric “NEW MAGIC WAND” – he jokingly apologized to the parents who attended as chaperones for the chaotic showing, which included him dramatically flinging himself around the floor.
“This next song is me yelling and not making any sense for four minutes,” Tyler said. “I know you’re going to be like ‘Man, that was terrible.’ That’s the point.”
Tyler, who starred in an Adult Swim comedy show called Loiter Squad between 2012 and 2014, used his comedic presence to keep the audience engaged while he rested between songs. Tyler’s 31st birthday was the day before the concert, but when fans tried to sing him ‘Happy Birthday,’ he shushed them and asked to be booed instead, saying he doesn’t celebrate birthdays much.
“That gets me off,” he said as the boos rained down.
Tyler concluded the show with hype-up song “RUNITUP,” a crowd-pleaser with a catchy chorus that left the audience desperate for more.
Tyler’s stage presence was otherworldly, as the stage lights seemed to ignite his eyes into exotic colors, and he rumbled around the stage with reckless abandon. His dancing jarringly transitioned from the divine to the crude – a smooth moonwalk at the beginning of a song could easily transform to his sprinting in place, limbs flailing wildly as columns of flame ascended behind him.
But his chaos was not without a purpose. Tyler’s entire set – the mansion, the Rolls-Royce, the yacht – displayed an excessive opulence and absurdism that contrasts his grandiose on-stage presence with the hopeless romanticism heard in songs like “CORSO.”
“Eyes is cryin’ on the jet cruisin’, ’bout to spend millions just to fill voids up,” he rapped.
But the absurdism wasn’t omnipresent. During “See You Again,” the crowd moshed and chanted during Tyler’s rap verses but heartily sang with him during its emotional chorus.
“You’re the one that’s always running through my daydream, I can only see your face when I close my eyes,” the chorus recites.
This article appeared in the March 10, 2022 issue of the Hatchet.