Review of Tyler, the Creator at Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney, on Saturday, 30th July.
Tierra Whack is on hand tonight as a replacement for this tour’s original support act, Kali Uchis. If the ensuing half-hour is testament to anything, however, it’s that this Philadelphian artist should be no one’s second choice. She’s quickly developing one of the most unique, charismatic voices in American hip hop, and she’s not afraid to use it either, as the already-packed arena quickly finds out. Even with barely a quarter of the stage to work with – the rest is curtained off – Whack and her DJ still manage to move any fence-sitters over to their warm-up party.
Tyler, the Creator caters to fans of all degrees and eras
When Tyler, The Creator first arrived in Australia in the early 2010s, he was a rowdy teenager full of piss and vinegar stirring up a world of controversy at the helm of the blog-hyped collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. Few could have predicted the twists and turns his career would take over the ensuing decade and the release of a half-dozen solo albums, but it’s ultimately landed him in prime position as a leading voice and creative within pop music.
There’s a lot to take in over the next 90 minutes. The first and arguably most notable thing is Tyler’s staging. The Call Me If You Get Lost tour has our hero literally ascend the mountain, with a grassy hill setting the scene. There’s no band, not even a DJ, just the man of the hour and a bunch of ascents and descents as the set progresses. The animations change with the seasons, going through fire and wind into moments of peace and tranquility.
In the OFWGKTA days, Tyler felt most at home surrounded by his friends – even when he’d branch out solo, he’d often have someone like Earl Sweatshirt along for the ride. Being out on his own is a strikingly confident move, and such a risk pays off when he’s prowling the stage and revelling in an audience of over 15,000 adoring fans. Moments like the roaring call-and-response of ‘LUMBERJACK’, the acapella finales of ‘See You Again’ and ‘EARFQUAKE’, and the utter chaos that ensues in the mosh pit when ‘NEW MAGIC WAND’ kicks in, these are all things that Tyler has earned through years of adaptation, evolution and persistence with his craft.
What’s clearest throughout the performance, however, is that Tyler, The Creator has something to offer fans of all degrees and all eras. If you’ve been with him since the start, there’s a medley of ‘She’, ‘Yonkers’ and ‘Tamale’. If you’ve come to his work in the latter part of his career, there’s a slab of both Flower Boy and IGOR to whet your appetite. What if you’re coming in with more or less a blank canvas, just to see what the hype is all about? It’s all validated here.
From the fiery pyrotechnics to the boisterous crowd and the impressive span of his catalogue, it’s easy to see how Tyler has ascended to this level of arena-filling performance, and he clearly has all the tools at his disposal to firmly maintain his place there.