Tyler, the Creator brings hip-hop and a different kind of yacht rock to Cable Dahmer Arena



Tyler, the Creator. // Photo by Aaron Rhodes

As the lights dimmed before Tyler, The Creator took the stage at Cable Dahmer Arena on Saturday night, the sheer applause decibels were loudest they’ve been in at least three years. The 30-year-old California-born rapper is on a true winning streak. His last three albums topped the Billboard charts and have been selling out shows around the globe.

The set kicked off with “Sir Baudelaire,” the opening track on Tyler’s latest album, Call Me If You Get Lost. It features lines about attending the French Open, swimming in Geneva, and riding his bicycle on a tarmac as he adds another stamp to his passport. There was a deafening bang of pyro during this song—the first of many—giving similar vibes as the Beastie Boys or Run-DMC in their prime: in-your-face hip-hop with explosive arena rock energy.


Tyler, the Creator. // Photo by Aaron Rhodes

While Tyler, the Creator’s music has often strayed from hip-hop in a traditional sense, he recommitted a portion of his creative energy to expressing his love for the genre on Call Me If You Get Lost. Many songs contain the R&B, soul, jazz, funk, disco, and even reggae influences that Tyler geeks out about.

The album is formatted like a late aughts/early 2010s mixtape hosted by none other than DJ Drama—infamous for his ridiculous boasts and proclamations as well as the Gangsta Grillz series, which includes collaborations with Gucci Mane, 2 Chainz, Pharrell, Jeezy, and many more.

Between Tyler’s melodic adventures and DJ Drama’s shouts exist some of the loudest and best flow since 2015’s Cherry Bomb, from which a few songs sat early on in the set. The ominous horn sounds on “Lemonhead” could have been lifted from Waka Flocka Flame’s 2010 era mixtapes, which Tyler is a documented fan of.

Perhaps empowered by the song’s hook (“Rolls Royce pull up, black boy hop out”) or the crowd’s reaction to the song, “Lumberjack” showcased Tyler scream-rapping as he flailed intentionally across the stage—a favorite move of his.


Tyler, the Creator. // Photo by Aaron Rhodes

In addition to his tribute to hip-hop as a genre and movement, what makes Call Me If You Get Lost an amazing album is the full-circle moment it creates for Tyler. He’s now able to travel and live like the characters in his favorite Wes Anderson movies—with careful thought placed in every element of his soundtrack, wardrobe, luggage, and itinerary (the album’s cover even features a stylized passport).

Tyler was operating as his usual playful and antagonistic self throughout the show. He asked fans to cheer for their respective city and boo for the other. Was he performing in Kansas City or Independence. Charmingly, he said he was confused. Ultimately, it seemed we were temporarily in Kansas City proper.

He divulged that he had stopped at Betty Rae’s Ice Cream earlier in the day for a toasted butter pecan dish (a tidbit which he later worked into a joyful, half-mumbled freestyle) and told us how pretty our town looked in the snow. Some fans disagreed before Tyler jokingly retorted that we better “put our boots on and shut the fuck up” before jumping into the next song.

Tyler romanticizes various places in his travels or the love interests he meets along the way, and he always falls back on the melodies, bridges, and chords he obsesses over.

He grooved and sang along to the vintage-style R&B/soul instrumental produced for “Wusyaname” as he stood atop a small replica yacht leading him across the arena floor from the main stage—which was adorned with a pastel green vintage car parked in front of a color coordinated mansion, where he could climb to the second floor and onto a smaller platform.


Tyler, the Creator. // Photo by Aaron Rhodes

It was on that smaller platform, decorated with tall grass and surrounded by lights, that Tyler delved deeper into his catalog and performed fan favorites from Goblin, Wolf, and Flower Boy.

“Boredom,” the first song from Flower Boy’s “island” excursion, is a twee but funky anthem for suburban youth and was one of the evening’s biggest singalongs. “911” and “See You Again,” also landed well, with the latter including an instrumental marching band intro—not heard on the record—and Tyler marching and saluting like a soldier while some fans joined in.


Tyler, the Creator. // Photo by Aaron Rhodes

After his boat ride back to the main stage during “I Thought You Wanted to Dance,” Tyler prepared for for five final songs. There would be no fake exit or encore. “Who Dat Boy” included more pyro blasts and some of the rowdiest GA mosh-pitting of the evening. The theatrical nature of Igor songs such as “I Think” and “New Magic Wand” were excellent selections to help close out the evening.

The grand finale “Runitup”—a celebratory collection of synths, horns, and a trunk-rattling Three 6 Mafia-type beat—was prefaced by a quick inspirational spiel from Tyler:

“You can change your opinion. You can switch it up. You can be somewhere next week that you’re not this week.”

As a former skater and bedroom rapper turned global icon who has been previously demonized for his bluntness, Tyler’s words of wisdom have never been more meaningful.


Kali Uchis. // Photo by Aaron Rhodes

Supporting acts Kali Uchis and Vince Staples go in for the “W”

Preceding Tyler’s set was one from his longtime collaborator, Colombian-American singer-songwriter Kali Uchis. Kali and her quartet of dancers wore coordinated red bodysuits and delivered an often-hypnotic (but occasionally too chilled-out) performance of sad girl R&B and soul.

What made the set an overall win was its rareness, with Kali’s first time in the metro, and a few key moments like the throwback favorite “Loner,” her platinum single “Telepatía,” and a couple diva moments in which she was briefly carried by her dancers as she struck a pose. Her whispery vocals and sometimes sensual lyricism also called to mind the charts often seen about young people having less sex than ever right now—a relatively steamy set making for an arena success.

Vince Staples had a clear agenda during his set: have fun. It almost seems like a radical thing to do right now. The Long Beach, California rapper and longtime Tyler collaborator—good on him for bringing the team along—isn’t always having fun as he writes his songs. Many detail his mental health struggles and past involvement in street gangs.

Nevertheless, his Future-sampling banger “Señorita” was a thrill for fans to mosh and wave their arms to, as was his set-closer “Norf Norf.” The avant-garde electronic production of “Big Fish” from his 2017 album Big Fish Theory sounded massive, just like it did when he opened for Gorillaz, and was the first major highlight of the evening.

Have fun? Mission accomplished.

Categories: Music