From Boston Calling 2018: Tyler, The Creator is Lonely, but Loved

The crowd that gathered in anticipation of Tyler, The Creator’s set at Boston Calling on Saturday wasn’t just unique in that it filled every inch of space from the front of the festival’s Delta Blue Stage to the back, but also in that the average age of the audience was noticeably younger than that of most of the festival’s other crowds. This is not to say that people of certain generations cannot enjoy Tyler, The Creator, but rather that a discernible divide occured between audiences heading to rock band Queens of the Stone Age and the popular hip-hop artist from California. Other than for the obvious reason (only one member of Queens of the Stone Age is under the age of 40 while Tyler, The Creator just turned 27) there is something about Tyler and the loneliness he so often exudes that resonates with young adulthood. It’s a reminder that the very floor he and all the weekend’s artists did and will perform on is on the grounds of a college where many a student has felt the same.

On first sight of Tyler, The Creator, who sported a custom high-visibility traffic jacket and matching shorts over a white t-shirt, the crowd moved forward at least ten feet towards the stage. Water bottles flew through the air, spraying droplets over the mass of jumping, dancing bodies that moved and sang in unison to the opening number “Where This Flower Blooms.” A cosmic-colored silhouette of a starry forest shimmered on stage behind Tyler, recounting the uncertainty of his childhood juxtaposed with his life now. His body shifted back and forth with each beat of the lines “I rock / I roll / I bloom / I glow” before rising to signal the end of the song.

The theme of loneliness played out in songs like “Ziploc” and the aptly named “Mr. Lonely.” In the former, a powerful and difficult-to-perform piece featuring the lines “What’s the point of bein’ rich when you wake up alone? / What’s the point of goin’ home when it ain’t nobody there?,” Tyler rapped about his deeply felt loneliness as well as his frustration at his music not getting enough radio play. At the end, breathless, he exclaimed “N----, that song hard as fuck to perform,” to resounding cheers. His honesty is just another part of his charm. When the upbeat “911” faded into “Mr. Lonely,” so did the mood of his crowd. The chants of “I can’t even lie, I’ve been lonely as fuck” growing louder and freer with each repeat until the shared expression of forlornness melted the feeling away.

Tyler, The Creator possesses a unique talent to be able to make every member of an audience feel exactly how he wants them to and change that feeling rapidly. By the time he got to “48” from his 2013 album “Wolf,” every hand was in the air. As his set came to a close he, like every person whose eyes were still glued to his every movement, wanted more time. “Do I have ten more minutes?” he shouted offstage. “Ten more? Two more songs and I’m out.” Someone must’ve approved, but over the sound of screaming it was impossible to tell who or what they said. He quieted the audience, asked them to put their phones away and put whatever energy they had left into going crazy for his last two songs. He performed, “I Ain’t Got Time!” to a chorus of jumping feet, the crowd now a full on mosh pit.


Just as the energy hit its peak, Tyler drew it in for one, final number. A chorus rose from the mass of tired bodies overwhelmed with emotion—some to the point of tears—to join him in singing “See You Again.” “Can I get a kiss? / And can you make it last forever? / I said I’m ‘bout to go to war / And I don’t know if I’ma see you again,” the crowd and their beloved Creator sang together, finding hope in their shared loneliness before parting for the night.

—Staff Writer Allison J. Scharmann can be reached at


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