Tyler, The Creator @ The Zoo, Brisbane, 05.06.11
by Scott Creney
Brisbane is even lovelier than I expected. And so are the members of No Anchor, who welcome me at the airport with a box of souvenir Australian donuts. Man, Koala Kremes are the best!
After a couple of warm-up shows in (what I’ve been told) a couple of hick-town backwaters called Sydney and Melbourne; Tyler, The Creator, was ready to bring his unique style to Australia’s finest city. Here’s a video from Sydney’s show.
Tyler’s an incoherent mess of unresolved contradictions, and there’s a line around the block of journalists willing to take a shot on his behalf. It’s hard not to. But their need to find simple answers, neat and clean, at the end of their questions is becoming tiresome. His nihilism, the endless negations that manifest themselves as anger, are a natural outgrowth of his surroundings. His desire to watch the world burn and be king of it all isn’t any more novel than Sarah Palin’s.
Like Eminem, Tyler wants to be the guy who was ‘sent here to piss the whole world off’. And to have a good time while he does it. Tyler, and the OddFuture klan he represents, is the guy blasting rap music in his car stereo — in part because he loves it, and in part because it annoys other people — and is every bit as profound.
Even his bullying comes across as weakness — a particularly vulnerable kind of hate, accompanied by wheezing and shouting, asthma and steroids. Like a kitten, Tyler wants you to love him, to stroke him behind the ears, but his refusal to be domesticated will result in him attempting to claw your eyes out just before he begs you to feed him.
Tyler’s the guy who shouts ‘fuck me’ to the people in the room, and ‘fuck you’ to the people who he thinks won’t be listening. He’s a coward with a messiah complex, a loudmouth without any convictions. He revels in his suffering, and is unable to enjoy his pleasure because he knows it isn’t going to last (he’s going to make sure of it). Tyler really gives a fuck about whether or not you know that he doesn’t give a fuck. He really cares about making sure you know that he doesn’t care about anything.
He’s a rapper/producer who says he doesn’t like hip-hop. He presents himself as a dumbass kid, but his record-buying tastes are as eclectic and voracious as anyone’s on this site. Tyler adores Joy Division, (relatively) obscure shit like Roy Ayers and James Pants, as well as French jazz (though he probably calls it ‘French Jizz’ around his buddies), old soundtracks, and stuff he got from the library. Tyler’s a writer who says that words don’t mean shit. He’s a studio obsessive who flew all the way to Australia to play three shows, the last of which is (like me) in Brisbane.
The Zoo may be the finest venue in all of Australia. It’s called The Zoo for a reason, and not just because there’s shit all over the floor and someone just gave birth to a litter of baby elephants. Tonight it’s a zoo because it’s crammed full of folks clamoring for a glimpse of the most talked about man in music. Unfortunately, the show starts nearly an hour later than it’s supposed to. A source tells me Tyler needed the extra time to get in some extra rape fantasies before he took the stage. Which is OK because they were only just fantasies.
He and his friends take the stage and the place goes mental. Hands are placed in the air, then waved around in a way that demonstrates that the audience just doesn’t care — a lack of caring that is appropriate given the context. With all the anger and screaming, the show is closer to group therapy than to music. Group therapy with the counselor tied up and locked in a closet. The show is Lord of the Flies with the microphone seving as a conch shell. But what’s with all the people singing along? I’m sure he has no problem with the ‘faggots’ and the ‘bitches’, but I wonder what Tyler thinks/feels when he sees a predominantly white audience shouting his “nigger/nigga’s” back at him.
There’s a lot of pain in the world. Is Tyler’s show providing a catharsis? Or does it just perpetuate that pain? I’m sure for some people, it’s one. And for some people the other. Hell, maybe it’s just one more spectacle for the privileged to enjoy, a reality tv show come to life, a roomful of voyeurs out to watch a sensitive kid have a nervous breakdown.
Like Nirvana, or Limp Bizkit for that matter, Tyler’s audience takes what they want from his rage and moves on, leaving Tyler alone and no closer to a solution. The idea that music will save you is bullshit sentimentalism. It might save the listener, but it tends to destroy the musician.
I can appreciate the freedom of the show, the chaos, the sense of abandon. I wish more people lived their lives like that — entertainers and otherwise.
And just like Tyler, I have the freedom to say whatever the fuck I want to. And so do you. It’s time we took advantage of that fact.
Otherwise, all of this Odd Future shit is a colossal waste of time for everyone involved.