By Faisal Rajan
It started with the low rumblings as the arena was filled with the howls, whoops, and screams of excited concert-goers at the Agganis Arena in Boston. The buzzing synth of “Igor’s Theme,” continued to rumble as the only things currently on stage were silver satin curtains swaying back and forth. We were left in pitch darkness as we stood there waiting for something, anything. Then there he was: Tyler, the Creator himself, perfectly poised and unmoving. The only word he uttered was “Running,” and as that word reverberated throughout the stadium, everyone erupted. All hell was let loose. Those were only the first two minutes of my experience seeing Tyler live.
Tyler, the Creator live is less of a performance of his songs and more of a one-man interactive musical. His choreography is pristine. The way the set is designed, from the use of curtain backdrops to the lighting, all help create an atmosphere that made us feel like we left the world around us, and entered the world of Igor himself.
The aura that emanates from him as he performs is all inclusive, every little word he says, raps, and sings just has so much substance to it that the very thought of missing any of it just seems absurd. During songs such as “IFHY,” Tyler’s rapping and singing evolved and was full of depth. It was as if you could feel his very soul. I felt like I was having the most intimate conversation with Tyler.
Choreography wise, Tyler switched from being a mere statuesque puppet to flailing his body around as if he was on bath salts. Normally you would never catch me dancing at all, but even I could not be helped from being sucked in and dancing and flailing my arms around like Tyler did when he was on stage.
However spontaneous it may seem, every moment of his performance was calculated, from being a statue during “Igor’s Theme,” to literally exploding on stage during “Who Dat Boy,” and crooning his heart out singing the main chorus for “911 / Mr. Lonely.”
Even “Earfquake,” his most popular “banger” from Igor, was transformed into such a personal experience. Tyler had one of his curtains drop to reveal a single pearl-white piano on the corner of the stage. From there he walked and, without dropping a beat, started playing “Earfquake,” and the entire stadium filled with the sound of everyone’s offkey singing, granted we didn’t sing the Playboi Carti verse.
When he finished playing his piano, all he said was, “I have an earpiece in so I couldn’t hear any of you, so I hope I didn’t screw y’all up. Now let’s do this for real,” then the booming 808s dropped in and everyone screamed as “Earfquake,” played for real.
His dedication to the Igor persona is also highly respected since by the end of his show his vibrant blue suit transformed into a dark navy blue, but the design of everything was just pure Igor. From the three-tiered satin curtains that had a projection of Tyler’s zoomed in grilled teeth, to the seizure-inducing light show, it was all designed beautifully.
The biggest moment for me personally was when during the intro of “Who Dat Boy,” I could see everyone in the pit lining up, ready to mosh as hard as they have ever moshed before. Right before it dropped into the beat, the stage exploded in a blinding light and Tyler, the Creator jumped around psychotically as the stage was engulfed in flames. It’s a memory that is literally burned into my mind.
All in all, go see Tyler, the Creator live. He does songs from every era of his lengthy discography of six albums and a mixtape, from “911 / Mr.Lonely,” to “Boredom,” to “IFHY.” He even throws it all the way back to “Yonkers.” Do yourself a favor and go give him the love he deserves and see him live, because it is more than just someone rapping over a backing track and jumping up and down. It is a performance of emotion and substance.