California Hip Hop invasion rained down on the Orlando Amphitheater on Tuesday, February 13, 2018.
Flower BoyScum Fuck Flower BoyTyler, the Creator, touring in support of his fourth album 2017’s ), brought his fellow Californian and Odd Future alum, Vince Staples, to the Orlando Amphitheater. Besides their California roots, Vince Staples and Tyler, the Creator also share a tendency to manage their darker sides with playfulness and to eschew musical norms. (officially named
Vince Staples made a name for himself through a succession of features, EPs, and mixtapes but now he is on tour to support his second studio album Big Fish Theory on which he has perfected his genre bending flavor of rave rap coupled with an unabashed, energetic and straightforward style of verse delivery.
A DJ set by Taco opened the show before the lights came up again to reveal Vince Staples alone on stage, obscured by fog, in front of a bank of TV screens. The glow of the screens snaked through the smoke. He started the set with the feverish “BagBak”. Adorned in all black and topped off with a bullet proof vest, Staples bounced to the pre-recorded tracks while the audience caught glimpses of him through the haze.
For “Rain Come Down” I felt a spray of mist and hoped the mercurial Florida weather wasn’t turning for the worse before spotting two women with industrial sprayers on their backs spritzing the crowd. Normally, such a thing would be welcome in the heat but not on such a cloudy night. By the time Staples started the third song of his set, “Homage,” there was as much smoke wafting from the crowd as on stage.
Staples ran through his set at a breakneck pace, performing almost breathlessly spitting verses and moving continuously through the fog. He took a scheduled break during “Alyssa,” his tribute to Amy Winehouse that features an interview snippet of hers. It was a welcome transition from the feverish openers of his set that included the mellower “Blue Suede”. The audience, mostly teenagers, was eagerly waiting to see Tyler, the Creator. The infinite awkwardness of the American Teen translated into a subdued atmosphere for most of Vince’s set. That calm would transform into a storm when Tyler took the stage. Vince did whip it up admirably towards the end of his set with crowd favorites “745,” “Party People,” “Big Fish,” and “Norf Norf”. Staples even got the crowd worked up enough for a call and response on “Yeah Right” a gambit that Tyler, the Creator would capitalize on later.
Vince Staples - "Norf Norf"
Staples left the stage never speaking directly to the audience. Though these two artists share much in the way of music production and high value lyrical content, their stage personas could not be more different. The understated Staples gave way to the larger than life Tyler, the Creator.
Tyler is known for unorthodox rhyming schemes and inventive, unusual beats that have caught the ears of a number of well-established artists, like Erykah Badu, Lil Wayne, and Pharrell, all looking to connect with his inventive style. He tends to push the boundaries on what constitutes a song, often changing tempos suddenly and including conversational fragments. Tyler produces an alternative hip hop steeped still, unfortunately, in materialism and misogyny, despite introspective lyrics braced with black identity positivity.
Part of Tyler’s considerable success has to do with the fact that his introspective bent has keyed into the lived teenage experience, coupled with his savvy use of featured artists like Kali Uchis and A$AP Rocky. One of the benefits of this younger audience base that I enjoyed was a the lack of a line for beer. I quickly returned to the crowd after Staples’s set in time to witness Tyler’s elaborate stage set-up of four fake trees resembling Sequoias, one of them laid over on the side, before Tyler bounced on stage in a reflective neon green construction crew safety vest and matching shorts.
He opened with “Where This Flower Blooms” off of Flower Boy and the crowd lit up, literally. Nearly every raised hand held a cellphone as screams erupted from fans. From there, Tyler led into the contemplative song “Boredom”. The lines of “Boredom” segue from the placid refrain of “find some time to do something” into the antagonistic song “IFHY” with the crowd enthusiastically singing along to both.
Tyler, famous for heckling his audience, told crowd they should have come earlier because “[he] saw an alligator and that was sick.” Later he asked if “Orlando was just for people who couldn’t last in Miami” and the crowd laughed gamely.
The trees on stage were not merely are for visual effect. Tyler climbed the felled tree to perform “Who Dat Boy” from Flower Boy seated on the trunk. The song features a sinister synthetic beat and A$AP Rocky on the album. Tyler also offered up “911 / Mr. Lonely” and “Glitter” from his latest release. The crowd continued to provide backing vocals without prompting.
Tyler, the Creator ft. A$AP Rocky - "Who Dat Boy"
The album, Goblin, released in 2011 went gold this January. He celebrated on stage by sharing this with the crowd and playing “She” from the album. Seeing Tyler, the Creator live made it easy to distinguish the evolution of Tyler’s sound between Goblin and Flower Boy. The gloomy energy of Goblin is replaced with a more mature and melodic sound on the more recent release.
“I want everyone to enjoy this next song like a real human being” he said taunting the crowd about using their phones and ended his set with “See You Again” featuring Kali Uchis. Most of them obliged and put their phones away for the final song of the evening as the show ended on a mellower note as the teenagers trickled out of the venue and lined up looking for their rides.
Catch Vince and Tyler as they continue their North American tour.