Many Canadian music fans have been without live music for the couple years since the COVID-19 pandemic started, but it looks like we’re finally getting back to somewhat normal. There have been several short-lived re-openings that allowed some shows to happen last year, including a vaccinated-only Dave Chappelle performance at Scotiabank Arena last November, followed by capacity restrictions being re-applied for another few months, to now having the arena back at full capacity – no vaccine passports needed as of March 2022. Several concerts scheduled for the first quarter of the year had to be cancelled or rebooked, but the timing of this latest re-opening was perfect for Tyler, The Creator’s CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST Tour, with no reschedules needed.
Tyler, The Creator has been on quite the trajectory over these past several years, evolving as a producer and reinventing his sound over his previous three albums. He ironically sang his way to a Best Rap Album Grammy Award with 2019’s genre-blending IGOR, and in 2021 made a prominent return to the straight rapping approach with his seventh solo album, CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST. The new album saw him reach #1 on the Billboard charts for the second time, and has earned him another Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album at the upcoming 2022 ceremony. With this new energy seemingly inspired by the modern underground Griselda style, combined with the mid-2000’s Gangsta Grillz mixtapes by DJ Drama (who features prominently throughout the album), Tyler is back to putting rapping at the forefront and is arguably in his prime.
Joining Tyler on this tour would be fellow California rapper Vince Staples, who previously opened for Tyler on his Flower Boy Tour back in 2018, as well as frequent collaborator Kali Uchis. Going into this concert, there was excitement to see how both Tyler and Vince’s live shows have evolved since they last toured together in 2018, where they performed at the former Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto, and also to potentially see Tyler and Kali on the same stage together, performing some of the songs they’ve collaborated on over the years. Just hours before the concert, we’d also find out about yet another opener when the set times were emailed out, Teezo Touchdown, who features on Tyler’s latest album on the song “RUNITUP.”
Besides the few adlibs he does for the chorus on “RUNITUP,” I had never heard of Teezo Touchdown before, and this was my first time experiencing his music. This may have also been the case for many fans in the building, as the Texas-based artist told the crowd early on that this was his first time ever going on tour, and his first time in Toronto. His live show had an old-school ’90’s home improvement/hardware TV show gimmick, as he came out in a construction worker outfit with his microphone built into his headset. He’d also use flashlights and other hardware props to engage with the crowd. His music mostly consisted of chants and high-pitched melodies, giving off some “YMCA” and “Macho Man” vibes, and while I personally wasn’t feeling the songs, I’ll admit he did get the crowd hyped. He pretty much did every live show cliché, getting the crowd to open up the first mosh pit of the night, turning the lights off and having the crowd light up their cell phones, getting fans to throw their shirts at him, and tossing autographed goods into the crowd.
I may have felt old and out of touch with whatever this new music is, but it was a cool warmup and the crowd seemed to be energized after Teezo Touchdown’s set. The main stage Teezo performed on would be covered by curtains as his TV show backdrop got removed, and across the arena on the second stage is where Vince Staples would come out to perform.
Smoke machines covered the second stage and much of the floor crowd ran across the arena to be nearby, as Vince Staples seemingly appeared within the cloud of smoke, setting things off with the hype throwback “Blue Suede.” While Vince’s stage design wasn’t as intricate as what we saw on the Flower Boy Tour back in 2018, it was still a cool look as the platform beneath him lit up in blue to go along with the song. The stage would light up in different colours throughout his set, with Vince performing several songs off his latest album, 2021’s Vince Staples, including “Taking Trips,” “Are You With That?” and “Law of Averages.”
Being more of a fan of his older albums, I enjoyed seeing him also sprinkle in some throwbacks off of his Big Fish Theory and Summertime ’06 albums, including the bouncy “745” and “Big Fish”, as well as the closer for his set, “Norf Norf,” being sure to represent Long Beach, California with pride. Vince gave a dope performance, although he did experience one of the downfalls that usually comes with larger arena shows compared to smaller venues, and that’s poor sound quality. Maybe it was just from being up in the 300-level of the arena, but we found that Vince’s vocals would often get drowned out by the beat, and he couldn’t cut through as sharply as he would at a more intimate venue. No big deal for fans of the music though; if you knew the songs, you were probably rapping along to them with Vince.
After a short break, the attention would move back to the main stage, where Kali Uchis came out to perform. I was not prepared at all for her set, as I had only experienced her features on songs by Tyler, The Creator, Gorillaz, and Kaytranada before this show and none of her own music. I was also not expecting the crowd reaction, as the ladies got super hyped when she came out. While the only song she performed that I knew was the Kaytra track “10%,” her entire set was a vibe. The drinks were flowing, women were screaming and dancing, and the arena was filled with pure positive energy.
Kali Uchis gave a true Pop-star-level performance, delivering her vocals while following choreography with a group of dancers and different lighting effects. She sang in both English and Spanish, and turned the crowd on with sexy dance moves and provocative lyrics like “this pussy put you right to sleep,” getting the ladies in the crowd to scream every time she dropped a fly acapella bar. Her entire hour on stage was lit, and she definitely won the fans over. Kali humbly thanked the Toronto crowd for having her and her team before exiting, and there would be another break to prep the stage for Tyler, The Creator.
Kali’s award-show-looking setup would be replaced with a mansion backdrop and a boat dock at the edge of the stage, setting up the extravagant scenery you’re meant to imagine when listening to CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST. Those of us in the 300-level of the arena could see a hole in the stage where a vintage Rolls Royce was being prepped to be lifted by a platform, and the sunroof of the car is where Tyler would make his entrance as it was raised onto the stage.
A chauffeur would open the Rolls Royce doors to let Tyler out, and he started off his set performing the first three songs off the new album, beginning with “SIR BAUDELAIRE” and going through to the hype “LEMONHEAD.” While Tyler’s newest album showcases his return to rapping, it also digs into his ability to incorporate cool samples in his beats and blending the sounds into his rhymes, and he would show this off with the song “HOT WIND BLOWS” before taking some time to talk to the crowd. Getting into his love for fashion and cars, he asked the crowd if we knew what kind of car was on stage with him, and this led into the hype “LUMBERJACK”, the crowd shouting out the lyrics “Rolls Royce pull up, black boy hop out!” and Tyler pulling out luggage from the car’s trunk as he rapped his verses with the flyness.
After Tyler rapped his way through his monster-sized verse on “MASSA,” things would get really interesting. There was a large pathway between the two stages splitting the floor crowd in half, and now we saw that it was meant to fit a boat that Tyler would use to ride across between the two stages. He hopped in the boat and grooved out to the mellow “WUSYANAME,” getting the crowd to sing along to the smooth chorus as he glided over to the second stage. By now the second stage in the middle of the arena had also gotten a redesign, with lush greenery spread across it, looking similar to the cover art from the Flower Boy album. Tyler would get into a few songs off of that album once his boat reached the stage, starting with “Boredom” and getting the crowd to sing along to the chorus. “Find some tiiiiiime!”
Continuing on with more Flower Boy tracks, Tyler would perform one of my favourite jams off that album, “911,” followed by the Kali Uchis collab “See You Again.” I was looking forward to seeing Kali Uchis come back out to perform the song – it would have been epic if she showed up on the main stage across the arena while Tyler was performing on the second stage, but sadly that moment never came. Tyler still rocked the song on his own and the crowd filled in Kali’s vocals, but it felt like a missed opportunity. That’s now two straight concert tours where Tyler has had major collaborators in the building with him, but has chosen not to bring them on stage with him to perform their songs together (last time it was Jaden Smith who opened for him on The IGOR Tour).
Wishful thinking aside, Tyler still had the crowd behind him as he started getting into throwbacks, performing the 2013 single “IFHY” among the grassy meadows. Tyler took some time between songs to reminisce on his first ever shows in Toronto back in 2011-2012 (for me personally bringing back memories of The Sound Academy in 2013) and got into some tidbits about his older songs, revealing he initially made the beat for “She” with Snoop Dogg in mind. He’d run through a medley of throwbacks off of his Goblin and Wolf albums, performing the first verses of “She,” “Smuckers,” “Yonkers,” and also pulling out some rarer songs like “Bimmer” and “Rusty,” before closing out the segment with the hook from “Tamale.”
After getting the crowd hyped with those high-energy throwbacks, Tyler would get back in his boat and mellow out again, getting the crowd to sing along and dance to “I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE” as he glided his way back to the main stage. As Tyler’s boat reached the main dock and he got back on stage, the music seamlessly transitioned into the hype “Who Dat Boy,” with the beat building up until pyrotechnics went off just as it dropped. Two albums later and this is still arguably the most hype, energetic song Tyler performs at his live shows. After spitting fire into the mic and literally shooting off flames on stage, Tyler calmed it down again and took some time to acknowledge the fans. He called out a fan who had a sign held up saying they flew in from Mexico for this show, and another who’d been looking tough all night while wearing an orange hoodie.
Tyler continued to have fun with the crowd and dropped some more tidbits on the next few songs he’d be performing. Referring to his 2017 Flower Boy album, he talked about how he felt he should have won that Grammy Award, but after losing, decided that this would never happen again. This of course led into some songs off of the next album he released after Flower Boy, the Grammy Award-winning IGOR, and he got us all dancing to the groovy “I THINK.” He then followed this up with the iconic “EARFQUAKE,” with the crowd all singing along in unison. Another contender for most lit song of the night came next though, as he described to all the parents and casual fans in the building how the next song was his favourite he’s made to date, getting into details about how he layered different samples to make the beautiful finished product on the album, but that it translates to just a lot of shouting from him at the live show.
The song would be “NEW MAGIC WAND,” and the crowd got hyped and shouted the lyrics with him as he ripped through the emotional rollercoaster of a track, with all the flames shooting off behind him. Having covered the most important highlights of his IGOR album, Tyler decided to close out the show with one last CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST track, “RUNITUP.” While the song comes halfway through the album’s track list, it’s effectively an uplifting victory song that was a perfect fit to end the show on. As he’s become known to do over the years, Tyler did not bring back Teezo Touchdown to perform the song with him despite having Teezo in the building, nor did he return to the stage afterwards to perform an encore. Still, no complaints as the fans got an epic show from the continued rising star.
Overall, the first rap concert Toronto has been allowed to have in 2022 was an epic one. Tyler continues to shine and improve on every tour he does, “putting the cow on [his] level” and raising the stakes as his budget continues to grow. Over the last three albums he’s released, every accompanying tour Tyler has embarked on has enhanced the experience of those albums, with the intricate stage designs giving life to the album art and the visuals he imagines to go with the sounds. The Flower Boy Tour had the lush greenery to go with that album art, The IGOR Tour expanded on the visuals from the “EARFQUAKE” music video and brought that character to life, and now The CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST Tour has given added life to the extravagant Tyler Baudelaire character, with the big-ass mansion, vintage luxury car, private dock with a boat and an isolated green island off the coast. One difference between the tours is that this time Tyler only performed two thirds of the newest album rather than near all of it, leaving out some of my favourites like “MANIFESTO” and “RISE!,” but that is bound to happen as he continues to build a strong discography with proven longevity.
It continues to be a great journey seeing Tyler, The Creator go from rocking hardcore Hip-Hop shows at smaller nightclubs to now captivating this massive fanbase with Billboard plaques and Grammy Awards behind him. Tyler has clearly shown he can make that extra stadium-sized budget work for him to enhance the experience of his music, as he continues to have some of the most epic and thought-out stage designs of any performer, with his visual creativity riding right there with his sonic creativity. His openers were great too, with Kali Uchis near blowing the roof off and Vince Staples killing the raps as he’s known to, despite the sound issues. All of these artists should have decades of music ahead of them, and the future looks bright.
Check out this Youtube playlist of concert videos from all the Tyler, The Creator shows I’ve seen over the years!
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