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Tyler, the Creator brings eclectic electricity to Oakland Arena

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THEO WYSS-FLAMM | SENIOR STAFF

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APRIL 11, 2022

On April 1, transgressive musical artist Tyler, the Creator flipped off his audience. “That’s the best y’all f—ing got?” he ribbed after soaking in their boos and “f— you” chants. “Y’all trash.” 

He could easily be deemed irreverent, but cheeky suits him far better. Spunky and sweetly sardonic, the rapper has been parading around North America since February in the Call Me If You Get Lost Tour. The title was fitting, but not because it paid homage to his 2021 album of the same name. Unaccompanied on stage, Tyler managed to captivate alone, beguiling the stadium with his hyper-specific brand of magnetism. To attend the show was to enter a world entirely governed by the artist, with his off-kilter charm and pastel dreamscape. Easy to get lost in, Tyler was a guiding force, never swallowed by the spectacle. 

As the light dimmed on Oakland Arena, a video of lush and manicured landscapes played out on a screen, the backdrop to Tyler’s striking entrance as he rose from beneath the stage seated in a vintage teal car. Daffodil yellow and sky blue cheetah print graced his loose button-down, confusingly complementing his fuzzy white trapper hat and the summery, supercilious lyrics of “SIR BAUDELAIRE.”

A man dressed in a penguin tail tuxedo assisted Tyler from his car and handed him his single twee suitcase. As he romped and rollicked to the pumping bass of  “CORSO,” the screen lifted to unveil a towering, ornate and powder blue villa-turned-playground.

Tyler is the multi-hyphenate to end all multi-hyphenates: rapper-producer-fashion designer-former skater kid and, above all, an artist. Elevating the bar for himself one notch higher, the more forceful rap of the opening numbers faded into a myriad of lilting harmonies and warm synth piano. A jet boat rose above the floor audience members, and the flirty “WUSYANAME” got the audience swaying like the sea his boat needed as he danced on the bow.

The constant change of tone kept the show dynamic. Narcotic strings and scattered chimes  flourished as the boat decked at a platform arrayed with shoots of long grass. Blues and purples pooled into reds and oranges as the opening notes of “Boredom” sent the crowd into a frenzy of cheers. Tyler fluttered around the platform taking an air of ease with him, breezily rapping the verses of the 2017 hit. 

As Tyler stood in an orange haze and grassy plain, a soporific sunset swathed the stage, and his audience took hold of “See You Again.” Hands on hips and an apathetic posture, his effect never let up, quietly commanding the crowd even when he stood still. 

“I know the answer, but I have to ask because it strokes my ego,” he said after bobbing through “911/Mr. Lonely.” “Do you mind if I play some older songs?” A resounding yes translated into cheers and overhead claps. Even while dipping into songs from pre-2014 like “She” and “IFHY,” he captivated with the same eccentric yet enthralling energy, bopping across the stage. 

After sailing the boat back to the mainstage through the appropriately calypso-esque “SWEET/I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE,” the steel drum shifted to stifled sirens as green flashes illuminated him, his back turned and his neck slightly tilted. As “Who Dat Boy” kicked in, blasts of fire erupted behind him after ripping off his hat and thrashing around the stage — an unstoppable force jumping and kicking in a chaos that maintained a beat.   

As the show neared its end, Tyler stood, hands at his sides, staring on an audience belting the prelude to “EARFQUAKE,” trusting in them to build up the intro without him. When the chorus hit, sparklers cascaded behind him in a waterfall of light, capturing the catharsis of singing a favorite song with the person who wrote it. 

Before walking through the large house’s door, he offered a repose to the sarcastic, creative fireball that performed for those 90 minutes with an earnest expression of gratitude. Though he closed the door behind him, the crowd buzzed with an infectious electricity that buoyed the night.

Contact Afton Okwu at [email protected].
LAST UPDATED

APRIL 12, 2022


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