The stagehands roll out and reveal a floor mat printed in the veneer of a light-colored hardwood floor. Before his first number is finished, California-based rapper Tyler, the Creator has assembled the façade of a Mediterranean villa behind him as he is lifted from below stage in a vintage Rolls-Royce. As he steps from the real life set piece, door opened by a would-be chauffeur, the entire arena is on their feet.
Despite the headlining performers relative age gap with the majority of those in attendance at his Little Caesars Arena performance Monday night, it is exceedingly clear that Tylers aesthetic and musical scope have grown to match the expansiveness of his listeners. Taking a moment to touch on the tracks that brought the likes of himself, Frank Ocean, Earl Sweatshirt, and the rest of Odd Futures beloved iconoclasts to fame, Tylers performance of his current album, Call Me If Youre Lost, was nothing short of cinematic.
Attracting the nearly capacity-level crowd in attendance may seem a tall order in a pandemic, though Tylers last two albums (Igor in 2019 and his current Call Me If Youre Lost) have shown the artists full embrace of the theatricality on par with the grandeur of an arena performance. That said, Tyler, the Creator is no stranger to massing crowds in Detroit. Having headlined the MoPop festival in 2017, a spot that was filled by his current tour mate Kali Uchis at the same festival in 2019, Tyler continues to be an act that shows adaptability, awareness, and real growth through the years.
On top of bringing the undeniable Kali Uchis to the stage last night, Tyler was accompanied by the relative up-and-coming Teezo Touchdown and Long Beachs finest, Vince Staples. Though energy from the young crowd was low for the tours accompanying first two acts, whatever wallflower syndrome in the room was immediately cured as Kali Uchis set began. The performance was executed in her signature sensual style alongside her backup dancers, although she barely spoke more than a thank you to the applauding stands. Her briskness was barely noticed though as Tylers first song split the curtains to reveal his now trademarked Broadway-level production.
Maybe a sign of maturity, but as Tyler, the Creator stepped into his teal-leather upholstered Chris Craft set piece, no intimacy or personality was lost in the extreme grandeur of the shows breadth. Taking a break to unabashedly drag from his inhaler just to turn around and openly, though lovingly, mock his adoring fans, Tyler, the Creator seems to have mastered what many young performers seem to struggle with when gaining the spotlight at a young age: balance. Call Me If Youre Lost remains consistent in highlighting the artists strength of honest, hard-hitting raps, while presenting an evolution towards a softer closeness that last nights performance showcased beautifully. Alex Burns