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Concert Reviews, Music

Concert Review: Leader of the Pack: Tyler, the Creator Brings OFWGK†Δ’s Hype and Controversy To Toronto

By: Curtis Sindrey

Tyler, The Creator. (Photo: Tumblr)

For a lone wolf without his pack, Tyler, the Creator can still raise a lot of hell. The infamous leader of Odd Future Wolfgang Kill Them All (OFWGK†Δ) performed to a sold-out Opera House in Toronto last night in support of his forthcoming album, Wolf, out April 2nd. It may have been the only Canadian stop on his tour of the same name, but the frontman gave a performance worthy of cross-country controversy.

Despite announcing a set-time of around 9:30pm, Tyler didn’t appear on stage for at least 30 minutes.

For the time that Tyler lingered backstage, Taco Bennett provided a DJ set with Tyler’s “Wolf” artwork as a backdrop and a Unabomber-inspired cabin on stage, got the crowded pumped with tracks from artists like DMX, Chief Keef, Drake, Waka Flocka Flame and Schoolboy Q.

Suddenly, Tyler burst onto the stage donning a white t-shirt which read “Golf,” referring to OFWGK†Δ’s spoonerism, dark shorts and a green hat with a similar slogan, and the crowd transformed into a sea of fist pumping, over-zealous, mostly white, teenagers, and he quickly had the full house in a frenzy during the first song “French!”. Despite constantly antagonizing the audience with quips like “I hate all of you motherfuckers” and “what’s up assholes,” the crowd went wild instead of being dazed by the insults.

Tyler’s music is riddled with infectious naivety. After all, he’s only 22 years old. With his first two albums, 2009’s Bastard and 2011’s Goblin, he rapped about hating school, fighting with his parents and other authority figures and it perfectly appealed to the high school crowd.

He appeared both forceful at times and humorous, often joking with the crowd and front-of-stage security. It was this lack of pretense and full-on concert comradery that brought Tyler down from the OFWGK†Δ pedestal.

While much of Tyler’s performance energized the crowd to the point of creating several mosh pits throughout the show, it was his track “Yonkers” from 2011’s Goblin, and the song that arguably pushed Tyler and OFWGK†Δ  into the mainstream consciousness that nearly catapulted the crowd over the edge.

When Tyler introduced several new songs from Wolf, including one called “Cowboy,” which includes an eclectic mix of several cultural references including his fellow OFWGK†Δ member Frank Ocean’s “coming out,” and Trayvon Martin, the crowd blew up, eager to listen to Tyler’s new creations.

Tyler admitted that performing the new songs was awkward because “you don’t know what the fuck is playing and you just stand there,” but the new tracks were positively received and contained the bare beat structure, much like the work of Pharrell, that Tyler has become known for.

Either due to restlessness or over-excitement, fans began throwing objects onto the stage, including water bottles and what looked like a shoe which nearly hit the MacBook of Tyler’s DJ. “I’ve got lawyers outside,” Tyler said jokingly.

If you arrived late for the show, you could have easily mistaken the mosh pits, crowd-surfing and general hopped-up energy as a 1980s-era hardcore punk show.

Tyler wasn’t there to plaster a PG-rating on the all-ages show. In fact, he reveled in stage banter that echoed his misogynist lyrics as he called both the audience and those on stage “faggots” and in tracks like “Bitch Suck Dick,” which he performed last night, with lyrics like “By the way, we do punch bitches.” And “Gun to her head make your bitch massage my shoulders.” Woman frequently get the brunt end of the stick in Tyler’s songs and are often beaten, raped, and killed in his lyrics, but Tyler has said before that he uses the word “faggot” as an “adjective to describe stupid shit.” But with a young, impressionable crowd, fans might use those words carelessly without bothering to research their meaning. Tyler has consistently made the error of making ignorance cool.

Unlike a group like NWA, whose ultra-violent lyrics on tracks like their mega-hit “Straight Outta Compton,” provided commentary and sparked a longstanding discussion on gun control and the unnecessary violence that was revenging their south central Los Angeles neighborhood, Tyler shies away from speaking out about anything of substance.

As hip-hop’s new standard, Tyler’s staying power will lie in his potential to move beyond his shock-laden performance. Will he be able to provoke a discussion about issues like rape or domestic abuse instead of promoting ignorance?

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