The crowd’s is continuing to grow. Fans are chanting, cussing, screaming things like “Fuck you, Tyler!” and “Wolf Haley bitch!” A familiar herbal scent lingers about in the room. Tyler’s pink-faced, goblin-esque caricature from the Cherry Bomb album decorates the back of the stage. A merch t-shirt depicting vintage porn star, Rhonda, completely in the nude, cupping augmented breasts. Delinquency of this variety is highly encouraged with Tyler, the Creator as the unruly host of the evening.
The last time I saw Tyler was with the rest of the Odd Future collective perhaps three years ago at the Beacham in Orlando, and I’d call it hands down one of the best live shows I’d ever been to. It was raw, intense, and absolutely fun. Tyler, as well as the rest of OFWGKTA, seem to have a gung-ho approach with their concerts, as they do with pretty much everything else, essentially doing what they want to do, saying what they want, without much regard to the background noise telling them otherwise.
After listening to Tyler’s latest album, Cherry Bomb, which dropped only a few weeks prior, I’d noticed a little maturing from Tyler, both in content and musical range, all while maintaining his do-as-thou-wilt attitude. But he’s always been one to defy convention. He’s gone less for the shock value, and synth heavy production, and has decided to explore wider musical avenues. I missed his last visit to Orlando, when he was touring supporting his second studio album, but wasn’t going to let anything stop me from seeing him this time, not even the flat tire caught on the way to the venue.
Maintenance came and made repairs in timely fashion. And after some speeding— my car swerving slightly to the left— I finally made it. The line stretches all the way to the back of the building, luckily, fellow SIGT photographer who’d I be meeting for the first time, Carlo, was already there and fairly close to the front. We greet and meet, and briefly discuss our shared admiration for the group and Tyler, and our expectations of the night.
We enter the the lobby it’s already fairly packed, and a mess more of attendees are yet to enter. Not long after, Carlo and I disband. He scopes the scene out for better shots, I try to get a feel for my surroundings: flashy, attractive twenty-somethings, mainly. Scene of flat-billed caps, graphic shirts of varying obscenities, and fitted shorts. The girls are pretty, shapely, dolled up. The overall fashion and attitude is carefree, as the group is known to convey.
The fans are beginning to grow restless like wolves at feeding hour. It’s been an hour. Already people are trying to crowd surf; the only music heard is that in lobby, and fans continue to chant Tyler’s name (because how else will he know to come out?). I grew bored of waiting. Thinking it’d be a while longer before Taco and Tyler actually show up I go outside and beg a cigarette from some dude. Not half-a-cigarette later I hear shouts coming from the concert hall. Rushing inside, Taco’s at center stage at the DJ booth, and all hands in the air, mine included. Heads a’ rockin and asses a’ shakin, spinning tracks from Kendrick Lamar, Waka Flocka, Gucci Mane, Migos, and Denzel Curry. Each track formulaic to set the right mood for the night. Funky bass drops at all the right moments, Lil B cooking dances, swinging dreads, heads bopping; the energy is infectious. Not a single fuck will be spent for the next few hours, so long as these guys are here.
Taco ends his bit with Drakes’ “Know Yourself,” and gives his thanks. Now the warm up is over.
Enter Tyler. “Hello,” he says.
“My name’s Tyler. You guys mind if I hang out with you for like an hour?”
Located towards the back of the hall, I’m deciding where would be the most ideal area for turning up. The most space is towards the back, a few people along the corners are dancing in heat of all the hype, and I join in wherever the energy takes me.
Wanting to get closer, I brave the crowd up front. Coming from back, I feel as if I’m consumed by the the sea of people rather than making a conscious effort to trudge through. Eventually, I’m smack dab in the middle of a mosh pit being tossed left and right eventually catching an elbow to the face. After the pit died down, I’m handed something possibly illegal, and I may or may not have obliged him as I saw polite. 😉
When an artist can be on stage and at least act as if they have forgotten they’re doing a concert, and instead just go up and start doing what they want, it feels more genuine. You’ve the artists interacting with the entity that is the audience, like two persons directly feeding off one another. He even received a t-shirt as a gift from one of the girls up front. It was as if the audience were here for Tyler’s amusement. They’re weren’t any stage dives this time, and the on stage antics were to a minimum, but that didn’t stop Tyler from engaging in some of his usual shenanigans.
A guy from the front is invited up on stage for the sake of a backflip and almost fails in the process. He publicly shames one guy near the front after several failed attempts of catching the water bottles he’d been throwing to (sometimes at) audience members. “Sandwitches” was dedicated to a guy on the balcony for getting so hyped that he almost fell off. He even performs “2seater” while wrapped in curtain drapes, just ‘cause.
Most songs from Cherry Bomb were played, crowd favorites being the eponymous tracks, probably one of the more intense of the whole selection; and “Fucking Young/Perfect,” probably the most tender and heartfelt song that evening (despite the song being about Tyler struggling with strong emotions that could lead to statutory rape), and Tyler was flattered that the audience loved the track as well.
“No lie, I wasn’t sure how ya’ll fucked with that song, so I can’t tell you how happy that makes me you guys like it,”
I can say that it’s always a treat whenever Tyler is in town. Most of the fun had was mainly from watching Tyler, Taco, and Jasper have fun, allowing the lines to be blurred a little between performer and audience, giving more space for spontaneity.
The night ends with “Tamale.” The crowd still has a couple crowd surfs and moshes to spare. I came to let loose for a little, watch the Golf Wang hooligans come out and do their thing, indulge in some juvenile behavior on a night dedicated to artistic vulgarity, and enjoy a carefree youth for the night. I definitely got my money’s worth.
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