The cult of the Creator: Tyler, the Creator fires up the Oakland Arena

April 4, 2022, 8:00 p.m.

Tyler, the Creator fans are nothing if not devoted. I arrived at the Oakland Arena on Friday three hours before doors opened for the American rapper and hip-hop artist’s “CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST” show. I thought I’d be one of the only people there; instead, a large crowd had already wandered into the stadium, and fans were forming long lines at the merch booth.

Two girls studded with piercings told me that they’d been waiting by the stadium since 1 p.m. The doors weren’t even scheduled to open until 6.

If there is any artist worthy of such a cult following, though, it would be Tyler, the Creator. Originally a member of the Los Angeles–based collective Odd Future, Tyler has gone on to form his own musical universe. With each album, he has incorporated a unique new blend of musical and visual influences. His 2011 debut, “Goblin,” for example, was infused with gory imagery and dark, gritty beats, while 2021’s “CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST” incorporated synth-pop, neo-soul, reggae and jazz elements.

While waiting, I also noticed fans dressed in the styles of Tyler’s many fashion eras. Groups walking by in Supreme box-logo hoodies seemed oddly reminiscent of Tyler’s early Odd Future days, while others wore leopard-print vests and ushankas similar to those found in the “CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST” music videos. One girl even arrived as Tyler’s “IGOR” persona, decked out in the powder blue suit, blonde bowl-cut wig and rectangle-frame sunglasses of the icon.

Over the course of the night, Tyler performed an impressive span of songs from his wide-ranging repertoire. While he opened his set with many hits from “CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST,” including lead single “LUMBERJACK” and the jazzy “WUSYANAME,” he soon dove into audience favorites from earlier albums.

Everyone swayed to the chorus, as if rocked together by imaginary sea waves, while Tyler performed his 2016 “Flower Boy” hit, “Boredom.” And when Tyler began “She,” the audience rapped along to the song’s horrific story of an obsessive stalker; the atmospheric production and shocking tale still felt as fresh as when the song had just come out. “Tamale,” an explosive hit from 2013’s “Wolf,” seemed to shoot out of the speakers. Every high-pitched squeal of “Tamale, tamaleeee” electrified me as I felt it pass through my body.

Throughout the concert, Tyler, who has long been recognized for his unique control of aesthetics, never skimped on visual spectacle. He split his time between two separate stages, a large pastel blue mansion and a dry, grassy desert scene. The lighting and effects perfectly complemented the songs, too: when the monumental beat dropped in “Who Dat Boy,” a stream of firecrackers suddenly shot out and burst behind Tyler, framing him with a flaming curtain of light.

Vince Staples and Kali Uchis opened the concert with spectacular performances. Vince Staples hyped up the crowd with tracks like “Señorita” and “Norf Norf.” Kali Uchis left the audience in awe as she breezed across stage in a ruby-red, fur-trimmed sheer robe and performed mellow, melodic hits like “After the Storm” and “telepatía.”

The final song of the night, “RUNITUP,” was a thrilling culmination of the Tyler, the Creator experience. Tyler, bouncing around onstage as bright lights flashed and pulsed all around, rapping so passionately that he was practically keeling over, called out: “When you in your room, then you starin’ at the ceilin’ / Dreamin’, I want you to know it’s no ceilings.”

In response, the audience — who had already been rapping along and cheering all night long — exploded, screaming and crying out to Tyler at the top of their lungs. They were louder than they’d ever been, creating a giant force of sound that threatened to collapse the stadium. It was the moment — after an entire night full of numerous hits, phenomenal visuals and insane energy — that demonstrated precisely why Tyler earns such intense devotion from his fans. It was the moment that fulfilled the promises of the cult of the Creator.

Editor’s Note: This article is a review and includes subjective opinions, thoughts and critiques.

Lydia Wei '24 is an Arts and Life columnist for the Daily. She loves blackberries. Contact Lydia at lydiawei 'at' stanford.edu

Toggle Dark Mode Toggle Dark Mode
Toggle Large Font Size Toggle Font Size

Login or create an account