Since his debut as the leader of hip-hop collective Odd Future, Tyler the Creator's propensity for tomfoolery has been as much a part of his music as his blunt lyricism and quiet, direct delivery.
But the 28-year-old rapper-producer has matured greatly over the course of his releases. His most recent album, Igor, displays new levels of creative development. Tyler's concert Oct. 14 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum not only showed him at his best, but it was damn near the best show to come through town in a long time.
Tyler curated his tour with supporting acts of stellar Black originality. Openers Goldlink and Blood Orange, and Tyler's Igor conceptual persona, each brought a somewhat different side of Black performance. Goldlink's style called for more of a turn-up as he sashayed around in a gray wig, hyping up the crowd. Dev Hynes, aka Blood Orange, performed a set that was more like a visual novel, backdropped by images from his recent Negro Swan and Angel's Pulse albums. The most powerful moment of Hynes' set was his performance of "Holy Will" with Ian Isiah, who hit every note like it was Sunday gospel.
Despite the magnificence of the first two acts, it was apparent everyone was there for Tyler. He walked onstage with an intentionally awkward strut, wearing a neon suit and a bowl-cut wig. Fans jumped up and down in near unison to "I Think," making the entire floor look like an ocean wave. Tyler went through the narrative of Igor with the theatrics of a play. Large curtains dropped behind him as he made his way to a piano to play "Earfquake," harmonizing the hook a cappella with the audience toward the end.
In a way, it didn't seem like Portland was ready for such an unabashed exhibit of nonstereotypical blackness. At times, mainly during Blood Orange's set, the arena fell disappointingly silent when it should've roared with shouts of appreciation—that only happened once for Tyler after the abrupt ending of "Are We Still Friends?" But that didn't diminish the energy exuded by each artist. The Igor tour was one of the best Portland shows of the year, and it was steeped with Black excellence.