On Thursday, March 1, Tyler, the Creator was greeted by a loyal fanbase at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison.
Taco of Odd Future opened the show with a set of household names like Kendrick Lamar and M.I.A. His DJing was accompanied by sexual imagery and obscure anime visuals that kept the audience entranced. He was successful in his attempt to excite the crowd, and after his opening performance many were eagerly anticipating the talents of Vince Staples.
After a long anticipated wait, Vince Staples took to the stage, and fans greeted him with loud applause. Similar to Taco, Vince Staples took the route of complimenting his performance with glitched out visuals all collaged together in a sort of abstract narrative. Staples ran though tracks from his largely celebrated Big Fish Theory as well as his other three albums including “Homage” and “Blue Suede.” The beats in many of his songs felt urgent, and Staples’ stamina could clearly be felt. The crowd mirrored his energy, and everyone was jumping as Vince delivered banger after banger.
The audience then waited patiently for the headliner to make his entrance. Fans chanted his name and shuffled around, but didn’t dare give up their spot close to the stage. Finally, the curtain on stage lit up in shapes of swirling foliage, and the crowd was startled by the ethereal presence. Instrumentals reminiscent of Broadway accompanied the display, and the crowd waited in anticipation for the curtain to drop, equating Tyler to that of a theater star.
When the curtain finally dropped, everyone’s eyes darted to Tyler, his back turned away from the crowd. The stage was littered with artificial trees and plants. It was as if it were set for a modern rendition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream instead of a Tyler, the Creator show. Then, almost as if trailing after the instrumentals from before, “Where This Flower Blooms” began to play. The audience roared in excitement, and Tyler hyped the crowd up with his on-brand eclectic dancing. He wore a bright green construction vest with a cherub drawn on the back, which only furthered the irony of his image.
As he moved through his set, the audience caught glimpses of the more serious Tyler we have come to expect from the release of Flower Boy. “Foreword” from his new album contained lyricism that leans towards the introspective and self-aware. Lyrics like, “Cause if that cop got tricky, he better pull / Cause when I get pulled over, I usually play it cool/ Cause I know what I’m driving is usually paid in full / And my ego and possessions, will not let me be one…” make the audience consider politically sensitive ideas. The traditionally rowdy, haughty Tyler was replaced with a boy who spoke earnestly and with understanding. Instead of a thoughtless rant, the audience got a cordial serenade.
While the music and genius itself may have felt earnest, the performance as a whole seemed somewhat manufactured. Tyler, the Creator is one of the most relevant artists to come to Madison in the past few months, and with popularity comes the washing out of creative identity. As much as Tyler promoted and stayed loyal to his brand, much of the performance felt rehearsed. Whether or not this is a flaw is up to individual taste, but it can’t be denied that Tyler’s theatrics felt somewhat scripted.
The set wrapped up with “See You Again”, and the crowd was able to fall in love once again with the sweet platitudes of Flower Boy. The night closed out on a honeyed note, and many were satisfied with varied nature of Tyler’s set.
TYLER, THE CREATOR