Tyler, the Creator loves Seattle. Like, really loves Seattle.
Just a few songs into Friday’s Call Me If You Get Lost tour-closing show at Climate Pledge Arena, the fiery Los Angeles rapper couldn’t stop raving — literally shouting at the top of his lungs at one point — about the air, the water, the green, the Market, the shows, the prolific milk delivery services. His Emerald City affections apparently date back to the early days of his career when he first came to the Northwest with his recalcitrant Odd Future collective, and Seattle summers inspired the cover of his 2013 album “Wolf.”
The Seattle love fest was all super wholesome until, in Tyler fashion, he started describing the graphic ways he would like to demonstrate his feelings to our fair city. (We were just a couple of hundred yards from our most phallic landmark, after all.) The longer it went on and the more specific Tyler got, it was clear this wasn’t the perfunctory “I love [insert city]” tour banter.
“Every time I come here I’m like, ‘Am I about to [expletive] buy a house here?’”
Turns out he almost did. On “MASSA,” off his Grammy-winning 2021 album “Call Me If You Get Lost,” Tyler casually drops a line about buying a house in Seattle, which predictably drew big cheers as he slashed his way through the introspective song. Evidently, he wasn’t just hard up for a word to rhyme with “paddle.” Two years ago, Tyler said, he was up here house hunting on Bainbridge Island, which would explain the photos of himself aboard a Washington state ferry he posted on social media that year. Sounds like the only thing stopping the L.A. kid from getting a 206 area code (and those door-to-door milk drops) might be the gray.
“I could do this for 13 minutes,” Tyler said of his Seattle gushing, resuming his set with an incendiary “Lumberjack” that exploded like a car bomb out of the Rolls-Royce he had on stage. Still, he’d find time later for more Puget Sound praise, saying one of these days he just might grab some property here.
Get the man a good Realtor and a copy of “Swass” and let’s do this, Tyler.
It wasn’t the only time Tyler got reflective during the final night of his tour with pop/R&B singer Kali Uchis, fellow L.A. rapper Vince Staples and Teezo Touchdown. And the Seattle fans who packed Climate Pledge Arena on Friday clearly reciprocated the love.
Now in his 30s, the adventurous auteur has retained the youthful demeanor and brashness that resonated with legions of young fans more than a decade ago, even as his music has evolved past his shock-rap punchlines that largely defined his early work (and earned a fair amount of criticism in the process). Tyler doesn’t do low-energy performances, but even by his raucous standards, last night he seemed to give everything he had and then some.
Whether the “crisp” Seattle air got to him or he was simply going all out on closing night, Tyler’s legs seemed to shake a little harder while busting his erratic yet weirdly smooth dance moves — equal parts Charlie Chaplin, Michael Jackson and Carlton Banks — in front of a Beverly Hills-style mansion that served as a backdrop. Toward the end of the night, the loafered-up rapper glided across the stage during a cool-grooving “I Think” before his stargazing “Earfquake” turned into a cosmic singalong.
His 90-minute set showcased a good cross section of his catalog, including a medley of oldies highlighted by a snippet of his creaky classic “Yonkers” and the absurdist vulgarities of “Tamale,” a song that lit up the crowd despite some lyrics that haven’t aged particularly well. The range of Tyler’s set list showed why he’s one of the most dynamic rapper-producers of all time, shifting between some of the breezier cuts off his psych-hued opus “Flower Boy,” the 2017 album on which a maturing Tyler’s progressive artistic visions really came into focus, and delirious crowd igniters.
As if prepping himself for the mayhem he was about to unleash, Tyler puffed his inhaler before launching into what he called “the best song in my discography” — “New Magic Wand” off 2019’s experimental pop detour “Igor.” With its room-shaking bass, the track hit like a noise-rap meteor crashing into the Earth, with a maniacal Tyler shrieking, shouting, screaming deranged lyrics as fire cannons erupted behind him. If the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network picked up anything around 11:18 p.m. last night, that was all Tyler.
When you finally buy that house here, Tyler, make sure you get earthquake insurance.
Though it was his name on Climate Pledge Arena’s LED marquee, Tyler, the Creator was hardly the only one who made an impression on Seattle on Friday night. After a short, wigged-out set from rapper/off-key singer Teezo Touchdown, Staples reminded us why he’s up there with Tyler as one of hip-hop’s top live performers of the last decade. A headliner in his own right, Staples has long been a master of delivering active, high-energy sets without compromising the execution of his bars, and last night was no different, even in his setup role.
Based on her reception and the “Kali!” chants that broke out before she took the stage, the crowd was almost as stoked for Uchis as they were for Tyler. Throughout her dreamy, hourlong set, the bilingual pop singer who draws on after-dark R&B and reggaeton had fans cheering with each shake of her hips, their enthusiasm growing louder with every suggestive dance move.