This year has seen a lot of firsts for Tyler, the Creator. His fifth album, Igor earned him his first No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200, his first platinum single with “Earfquake,” and on Thursday night (Sept. 12), his first headlining show at New York City’s most iconic venue — Madison Square Garden. And you better believe he brought his platinum-haired alter ego, Igor, along with him.
Preceded by rapper GoldLink and a high-energy set from Jaden Smith (including a cameo from his sister, Willow), applause erupted around the stadium before Tyler even took the stage. Opening with “Igor’s Theme,” the rapper, clad in a candy pink-and-red suit, stood dead still in front of a metallic silver curtain before flailing across the stage to the song’s bridge.
“New Yorrrrk,” Tyler grumbled in a raspy tone, with just one request from the audience that night: “I want you guys to embrace your hard breathing, I want you to embrace your sweat, and I want y’all to fucking move,” the rapper demanded before jumping into “I Think.”
After performing “A Boy Is A Gun,” Tyler sipped water to raucous cheers. Attendees in the pit clawed for his used plastic bottle as he flung it from stage left. Next up was Tyler’s favorite song from Igor, “New Magic Wand.” “If you know the words, sing along,” he said, “If you don’t, just move your lips and look like you singing along. Most of y’all do that shit already, it’s hilarious from up here.” Once he had successfully head-banged his way through the track, Tyler was visibly glistening with sweat.
A silky blue backdrop soared above the stage, revealing a white grand piano, where Tyler sat and emphatically played the second chorus and Playboi Carti‘s verse on “Earfquake,” just before jumping into the full version of the song. The crowd chanted the lyrics back to him on the song’s final verse, which he sang a capella.
“That’s a good song,” Tyler said upon finishing. “Justin Bieber’s a little stupid bitch for not taking it,” he joked. In late May during an intimate performance of Igor in Los Angeles, the rapper admitted he wrote the song with Bieber in mind, though the “I Don’t Care” singer ultimately rejected it. However, it turned out to be for the best: Tyler announced that his team had surprised him with his first platinum plaque backstage just hours before the show.
Throwing it back to 2017, Tyler performed “Who Dat Boy” as columns of fire shot up from the stage. Just when you thought the audience couldn’t get any crazier, A$AP Rocky stormed the stage — complete with headscarf, à la “Babushka Boi.” The crowd moshed as the two rappers dispensed their verses in what felt like an epic duel. Before exiting the stage, Rocky jumped Tyler from behind, enveloping him in a brotherly hug.
Before belting his finale, “Are We Still Friends?” Tyler humbly thanked the audience in a departure from the rapper’s typically dry humor: “I didn’t think I would sell out Madison Square Garden this soon, all by being myself.”
Tyler The Creator’s MSG set list
“A Boy Is A Gun”
“New Magic Wand”
“Who Dat Boy”
“Running Out Of Time”
“See You Again”
“Are We Still Friends?”