Tyler, the Creator brings “Igor” to Stage AE


Knox Coulter | Assistant Visual Editor for Multimedia

California native and rapper Tyler, The Creator performed at Stage AE on Tuesday night.

By Vikram Sundar, Staff Writer

Nearly 500 heavy, sweaty bodies clustered together in a pit of darkness at Stage AE Tuesday while strobe lights flashed, giving view to bodies collapsing and falling to the sound of alternative, spiritual rap.

Who else could induce such berserk reactions other than California native and rapper, Tyler, The Creator? Coming off the success of his latest album “IGOR,” released in June and his first to top the Billboard 200 chart, Tyler set out for his world tour on Sept. 2 in Minneapolis, with this latest stop being Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.

While perhaps known best for his music, Tyler Okonma Tyler, The Creator also has a hand in other forms of media. The self-proclaimed “jack-of-all trades” has dabbled in all forms of art including the formation of his own music collective “Odd Future,” voice-acting in numerous TV shows and producing his own movie “Wolf.” Tyler’s distinct aesthetic has helped popularize the trendiness of Converse sneakers, cuffed pants and striped shirts as a cohesive look.

“EARFQUAKE” is undeniably the most popular song of his latest album, with more than 180 million streams on Spotify. Tyler opened his act Tuesday with the song’s classic piano riff, donning his iconic yellow suit and blond wig. Beside him, the crowd chanted “For real, for real, for real this time,” filling the background lyrics. Then came the spontaneous beat drop. Tyler leaped from his piano chair, clutching the mic with both hands, powerfully humming his verse as he hunched over, the crowd chanting the chorus in tandem.
The concert created a sense of community within the audience as Tyler poured his heart and soul into the mic, matching the tranquil beats with existential lyrics of lost love and acceptance.

In many ways, “IGOR” is Tyler’s self-reflection on his life after his father abandoned him and his mother at an early age. While his older music showed him aggressively venting out his anger and frustration towards his father, the songs of “IGOR” explore Tyler’s loneliness and even self-blame for the situation.

At one point in the song “EARFQUAKE,” the chorus repeats “Don’t leave, it’s my fault,” expressing a more vulnerable side to his reckless persona. Or perhaps, a new persona of his, dressed in suits and blond, bowl-cut wigs.

Almost every song perpetuates these feelings of melancholy with the repeating motifs of smooth piano notes and mellow drum beats matching Tyler’s slow, soft-spoken voice. In fact, the change to a softer voice and higher pitch marks a big change from Tyler’s naturally deep, raspy voice that propelled his rap career.

The night took a violent turn when Tyler performed “NEW MAGIC WAND.” This song is a standout from the rest of the album, breaking its timid aesthetic and unleashing his more aggressive side — a testament to his older music. As he sang “Sometimes you gotta close the door to open a window,” a deep synth blasted through the speakers, and before you knew it, bodies were displaced.

It was as if someone had hooked the crowd to a car battery and turned up the voltage to max. People jumped on one another, kicking and screaming, as they clawed their way to the front of the stage. Others attempted to surf the crowd, while some started fights. From this point on, the night was euphoric mayhem.

Tyler continued to satiate the hunger of the mosh pit for the rest of the show, performing some of his older songs like “Who Dat Boy” and “Yonkers.” By the end, the pit was a literal sauna. People grabbed each other’s sweat drenched shirts, pulling themselves above the crowd to catch a quick breath of cool air as the pit continued to erupt.

It was undoubtedly a magical night. Tyler, The Creator showed us his softer side, while still bringing the energy from his older work that his audience at Stage AE loved.


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