“I hope all is well,” Tyler, The Creator said to his rowdy audience at the Credit Union 1 Arena (525 S. Racine Ave.) Sept. 4. Of course they were well — they were in the presence of Igor.
Before it was time for Tyler, rappers GoldLink and Jaden Smith — who goes by simply Jaden professionally — warmed up the crowd. GoldLink, his onstage DJ and his bucket hat brought the energy for those arriving on time at the arena.
Jaden prepared the crowd for his arrival with the melancholic “P,” from his newest album “ERYS,” and videos of a soft pink sunset. The mood quickly shifted when he burst onstage to snappy hip-hop beats. He commanded the crowd into mosh pits throughout his set, but the chaos reached its peak during his stand-out punk rock track “Fire Dept.”
Jaden repeatedly thanked Tyler for bringing him on tour, speaking to the rapper’s influence and friendship. He showed his gratitude by starting multiple “IGOR” chants and dedicating his track “Icon” to Tyler, saying he’s “an icon living.”
After crew members Swiffered the stage, the house lights dimmed to reveal a single spotlight shining in the center of a silver metallic curtain. Tyler walked on stage, microphone in hand, donning a cerulean suit and a blonde, bowl-cut wig — typical of his “IGOR” persona — and assumed his position in the spotlight.
Tyler, The Creator — whose given name is Tyler Okonma — remained stationary and silent in the spotlight, head down in a power stance, as “IGOR’S THEME” resonated through the speakers. As the introductory piece on the artist’s latest album washed over the audience, he only broke his statute pose to shriek and occasionally sing the lyric “running.” He finally let loose into sporadic dance moves when the full beat dropped and strobe lights filled the arena.
In that moment, the audience required nothing more from the singer. The venue became a frenzy of shouting and shoving. Cell phones rose in the air as fans reacted to the artist simply breathing their same air. These were the same fans who waited in massive lines circling Credit Union 1’s hallways to purchase merchandise of T-shirts decorated with Tyler’s head.
A floor-to-ceiling silky blue curtain, matching Tyler’s suit, dropped down after the opening track. The set design was clean but intricate with dozens of lights framing the stage.
Those lights swirled around the venue, creating a pink glow for the love song “PUPPET.” The set continued to evolve — dramatically ripping away the curtain a few songs later to reveal layers of white fringe, which would be used as a projection screen.
With the audience already entranced, Tyler waltzed over to the piano to play a prelude to his hit track “EARFQUAKE.” The audience belted out the lyrics, making it difficult to hear the featured artist on chorus.
Song after song, fans jumped and danced, but even with all the motion, only the deep bass of “Yonkers,” off Tyler’s debut album “Goblin,” was enough to shake the concrete floor of the arena. The simple beat reverberated through the venue, leaving space to highlight his rapping skills.
Tyler already proved he can make an audience scream and bounce along with his performance, but his dry humor and profanity showed he can make them laugh, too.
He made crass jokes and commented on what random audience members wear to his shows — in this case, one fan was called out for their “aluminum foil” attire. He also made fun of those who were sitting in less-than-ideal sections.
Midway through his set, Tyler turned to his right and told those sitting nearly side-stage they’re in the worst possible seats.
“Enjoy this while it lasts,” he said to them as he stood as close to them onstage as he could.
The jokes fit his onstage personality, but they didn’t always land. And when he makes the same joke at every concert, the theatrics detract from the authenticity of the otherwise genuine performance.
His sweat-soaked suit served as evidence of that authentic commitment to the performance. He played up the drama at every turn, even as a center-stage riser elevated Tyler for all to see. The theatrics only riled the audience more.
The crowd didn’t miss its chance to shine, singing the chorus of “See You Again” off Tyler’s revolutionary 2017 album, “Flower Boy.” Fans nailed it — even the backing vocals — showing they notice and appreciate every detail of Tyler’s music.
Bringing the show to an end, Tyler belted out the last lines from “IGOR’s” closing track, “ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?” and collapsed to his knees atop the riser like the natural performer he is.
“IGOR” is available to stream on all platforms.