Tyler, The Creator is having himself a year. Picking up right where he left off and building on the success of 2017’s Flower Boy album, Tyler has gone on to release his sixth solo album, IGOR, and has further expanded his fanbase. What started off as a cult-like following surrounding Tyler and his group Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (or Odd Future for short) has now grown into a fanbase large enough for him to start performing in stadiums while on tour. With the release of IGOR, Tyler now has his first ever #1 chart-topping album, is on the biggest concert tour of his career, and is poised to have another shot at earning that first Grammy award he’s been chasing. He’s been able to reach new heights with every album released, and the experimentation with his sound on his most recent three albums has only helped him grow as an artist, having produced and arranged every song himself.
The excitement going into this show was high, as it would be Tyler’s biggest concert in Toronto yet, upgrading from Ricoh Coliseum on his Flower Boy Tour last year to now headlining at Scotiabank Arena for the first time. This Toronto show would only be the fourth stop on the 32-city IGOR Tour, leaving plenty of suspence and anticipation. Tyler would have competition to deal with on this Friday night in Toronto though, as pop star Shawn Mendes would be performing at a sold-out Rogers Centre this same night, taking away some of the pop fans who may have jumped on Tyler’s bandwagon for the romantic vibes on the new album. Still, the arena got fairly packed by the time Tyler hit the stage, and the fans were hyped to see what his show would look like now that he had a stadium budget.
We got to the venue early and found the line to buy some tour merch stretched nearly a quarter way around the arena. The line would stay this long throughout the night, as fans were eager to cop $45 t-shirts, $90 hoodies, plus hats, posters, and even blonde wigs to match Tyler’s look in the “Earfquake” video. Rather than spend all that time in line, we decided to find our seats and take in the openers.
Joining Tyler on The IGOR Tour would be GoldLink and Jaden Smith, who each have a few things in common. They’re both coming off of releasing their sophomore albums earlier in 2019, with GoldLink dropping his Diaspora album in June, and Jaden releasing ERYS in July. Along with the new albums, they each also have a new song featuring a guest verse by Tyler himself. One would think they’d use this opportunity to join Tyler on stage and perform those songs together, but sadly that time would never come, as the three artists would simply go on stage one at a time and perform their sets solo.
GoldLink had a short, energetic set, performing songs that got the crowd dancing. The arena was still slowly filling up with people, but the crowd on the floor was still large enough for him to set off a few mosh pits. He’d crank up the energy by throwing water onto the mosh pit, and at one point borrowed a fan’s IGOR wig to wild out.
Jaden would hit the stage next, and would come out to his sister Willow Smith’s singing on the “P-I-N-K” intro segment of the new album, with pink laser lights shooting out from the stage. The mosh pit circle opened up in anticipation of the beat drop, and the crowd turned up once Jaden actually started rapping. Jaden’s set had some weird energy, as he’d get the crowd to open up mosh pits for songs that didn’t have that moshing aggression to them, although the crowd on the floor still went with it as we grooved to the slow jams in the stands. He’d also admit at one point that he got his setlist mixed up and had asked the crowd to light up their phones and lighters to the wrong song.
Despite the hiccups, the crowd still seemed to enjoy Jaden’s set, as he performed songs off both his ERYS and SYRE albums, with the music videos playing on the screen behind him. Between new joints like “Mission” and “Summertime in Paris,” and older songs like “Batman,” Jaden took us on a mix of high and low-energy vibes, and would take breaks to tell stories of his relationship with Tyler and the Odd Future squad. If there were rumours of Tyler coming out as gay with lyrics on his two latest albums, Jaden added to them by openly referring to Tyler has his boyfriend several times throughout his set. He would also refer to Tyler as an icon, before closing out his set with the hype track “Icon.”
There would be a bit of a break for the stage to be prepped for Tyler, but the show continued to stick strictly to the set times, and Tyler’s set started at 9pm sharp. Now with the building nearly full, the crowd errupted as the lights went dark and the instrumental from the intro “IGOR’s Theme” began to play.
With the high-energy “IGOR’s Theme” playing him in, Tyler rushed the stage decked out in a blue suit and blonde wig, appearing just as he does in the “Earfquake” music video. The stage design also looked like that same music video, with a bright talk show curtain hanging behind him, although that curtain would soon be dropped to reveal a larger one behind it. Tyler would shout out the adlibs to the mostly instrumental track, getting the crowd to sing the vocal samples for him and also spitting a freestyle verse over the breakdown. The crowd knew every bit of the song to sing along to, and brought all the energy for it.
Between songs the crowd would chant “IGOR! IGOR!,” and Tyler would keep that energy high, diving right into the grooviest dance track on the album, “I Think.” With the song featuring vocals by Solange, Tyler would use her parts of the track to show off some wicked dance moves across the stage, and the crowd continued to sing along to the catchy hook. He would continue with more IGOR tracks, performing the album out of order by jumping to the slower-paced “A Boy Is A Gun.” Next would be one of the most hyped songs of the evening though, as he took us through the rollercoaster that is “New Magic Wand.” Starting with his slow-paced singing at a mic stand, Tyler would quickly crank up the energy for his rapid-fire rapping, and would drag out all the changes in the beat throughout the song to put extra emphasis on the production.
Continuing on with more new music, Tyler would next perform another slow-paced song with “Puppet,” getting the crowd to help sing Kanye West’s vocals on the track. The large curtain behind him would then be pulled away to reveal the rest of the stage design. There was a series of curtain-shaped screens hanging from the rafters, designed to look like the hairline on Tyler’s wig, and off to the side was a piano, where Tyler would sit and play what the crowd immediately recognized as the melody to his hit single “Earfquake.” After the dope piano solo, the actual song started to play with the lyrics “for real this time,” and the crowd sang along with Tyler, who performed using his real voice without the special vocal effects from the album version.
Having performed over half of the new album by this point, Tyler started to perform some of his older songs, going back two years by performing the groovy “911” with the crowd singing along. After dancing his way through the song, the mood would abruptly flip to darkness and he’d show off what else his stage could do. The screens above him had a cool thunder and lightning effect, and Tyler would stand on a platform that rose up as he began to perform the 2013 throwback “IFHY.” The crowd would shout the aggressive raps with Tyler, and he’d also get them to sing along to the smoothed out Pharrell vocals at the end of the song.
Returning back to the floor of the stage, Tyler next performed another IGOR track with “Gone, Gone,” as well as the hype loosie single “OKRA” to get the crowd moshing again. Tyler would take some time to acknowledge the size of this concert, shouting out all the fans high up in the stands. He would reflect on when he used to perform shows that only fit 500 people, “before I was big enough to have lawsuits” as he put it, before getting into his oldest throwbacks of the night. He’d go back to 2011 with his Goblin singles, performing “Yonkers” and fearlessly shouting those controversial lyrics about crashing B.O.B.’s airplane and stabbing Bruno Mars. He’d also perform the slow-jam “She,” with the crowd helping sing Frank Ocean’s smooth vocals.
The lights went dark as Frank’s vocals brought bedtime vibes, and this would make for an epic transition into the Flower Boy single “Who Dat Boy,” with stage lighting choreographed to the beat build-up hitting Tyler at different angles. Tyler would remain still as the beat built up, and would jump up as flames and fireworks shot out from the stage at the crescendo, attacking the mic with his vicsious raps. This was another contender for most hyped song of the night, as the flames stayed lit as Tyler performed the song, and the crowd was as turnt up as ever. Now alternating between songs off of his latest two albums, Tyler would perform “Boredom” and followed it up with “Running Out Of Time,” which then became a cool mashup of the two songs at the end, with Tyler singing the former song’s hook over the latter song’s beat.
Wanting the crowd to turn up one last time, Tyler brought his mic stand back and remained stationary to perform another IGOR favourite, the up-tempo “What’s Good,” spitting his verses raw as the whole building cranked up the energy. He would then close out the show with a couple softer songs, the screen behind him showing an army of Tylers as he did some militant dance moves. This would of course be reference to the lyrics “I’m about to go to war” in the next song, “See You Again,” as the entire building got hyped as they recognized the melody and sang along to the hit single with Tyler. He would then end the show with an emotional performance of the closing song to his IGOR album, “Are We Still Friends?,” going up on the levitated platform again and falling to the ground as he screamed out the last vocals of the song with all his energy.
Tyler would take some time out to humbly thank the crowd and take in the moment, commenting on his amazement of how he was able to get this big while remaining his weird self. He then left the stage with no encore performance, as the lights came on and the crowd cleared out.
It’s been a great journey seeing Tyler continue to build on his success, going from performing at The Sound Academy years ago to now headlining his own stadium-sized tour. As with most large arena shows, there were some sound issues, but overall the visuals and Tyler’s energy made this a great concert. I wrote in my last review that bigger concert venues and actually winning Grammy awards could be in Tyler’s future, and he’s well on his way to live up to that trajectory. While IGOR may be the least Hip-Hop sounding album Tyler has made yet, he’s shown great progression as his own producer, and we’re bound to see him continue to reach new heights for years to come.
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