Tyler Gregory Okonma, better known as Tyler, The Creator, returned to the stage back and better than ever for his much anticipated “Flower Boy 2018 Tour.” Tyler, a 27-year old American rapper known for his blasphemous lyrics and shocking humor teamed up with opener Vince Staples to kick off the 23-show tour on January 26, 2018, at the PNE Forum in Vancouver and concluded at the Eagles Ballroom in Milwaukee in March 2018.
On April 11, 2018, Tyler made a pit stop at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles with opener Rex Orange County, the British indie pop recording artist featured on Tyler’s song, “Boredom”. The following week, Tyler and tour set designer Tim Brown would present an even bigger custom set for two shows during both weekends of Coachella Music Festival 2018.
This tour follows the success of Tyler’s fourth and self-produced album, Flower Boy, released in July 2017, incorporating various artists featuring A$AP Rocky, Frank Ocean, Anna of the North, Lil Wayne, Kali Uchis and more. Flower Boy peaked at No.2 on Billboard 200 in August 2017, spent 35 weeks on the chart and was nominated for Best Rap Album at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards.
The “Flower Boy 2018 Tour” would experience similar success. Tyler sold more than 5,000 tickets per show, Pollstar reported. In addition, he sold out the James L. Knight Center in Miami on February 12 and The Anthem in Washington D.C. on February 25.
Brown’s stunning set design captivated Tyler’s exuberant fans in a cartoon-like forest filled with trees, leaves and flower-shaped light projections created by lighting designer Max McDougall. Day-one fans were exceedingly satisfied with his set combining performances of his older music from both Wolf (2013) and even Goblin (2011).
When Tyler’s vision was ready for building and it would then take Gallagher Staging & Productions just seven days to bring it to life.
The forest boasted four custom 30′ foam sculpted trees, a custom up-stage ramp with grass turf and one 20′ custom tree bridge also covered with grass turf, fabricated for Tyler to walk and perform on.
Gallagher built the up-stage ramp with our custom aluminum decking system. In addition, we built the custom set with the ability to break down into 10′ sections, allowing easy packaging and size reduction for smaller venues on tour.
Rick Ortega of Gallagher Staging & Productions was responsible for overseeing the assembly of the staging and scenery components for this tour. Ortega began his career in touring by freelancing in 2011 and has since worked on tours with New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys, Avenged Sevenfold, Fall Out Boy and more.
Finding A Rhythm
In preparation for a tour involving large set pieces broken down for travel, envisioning the game plan began during the building process. Ortega examined the foam-sculpted trees at each phase in our manufacturing warehouse to get an idea of how the next few months would play out. With safety as the number one priority, Ortega with the help of the Gallagher team would figure out the best way to get the pieces set up in an orderly fashion.
To become tour-ready, Ortega would finalize the method that makes the most sense, have all the gear labeled accordingly and put on the finishing touches about one week prior to first show.
“The most important thing is finding a rhythm,” Ortega continued, “You get into a repetition – a routine – for however long the tour is.”
Ortega and his crew would push the gear back behind the kabuki to allow the opening act, Vince Staples, to have his set on stage.
Having a motor setup, Ortega explained, was the safest way to go about lifting up the fallen tree. The fallen tree weighed approximately 750lbs and with its awkward shape, using a motor made the most sense.
First, the crew would set up rigging to hoist up the fallen tree. The crew would then use a 10′ piece of steel, rig that off the kabuki truss and use that to raise up the fallen tree in order to attach each stump. From there, they established motor points for each tall standing tree.
The crew positioned two of the standing trees on the upstage hill. The 3′ tall deck was 3′ deep and 40′ wide, and had 4′ x 8′ decks come off the downstage edge of the riser using Gallagher’s deck hands to construct the ramp. The crew shaped sheets of aluminum to create a hill effect by attaching it to the backside of the 3′ riser.
“We knew we could achieve everything we wanted for every situation, but sometimes it was figuring out how we needed to get it done,” Ortega said.
Although the crew used a loading dock most of the time, different venues posed challenges for a couple of the shows.
The Aragon Ballroom in Chicago, Ortega recalled, had a loading area not tall or wide enough for a particular set piece to fit through. To succeed, the crew had to remove two sets of double doors at the front entrance in order to walk the piece up two flights of stairs.
The following show at the Eagles Ballroom created a similar set piece challenge, where the crew had to tear off a second-story window, fit the piece through, build a stage to the level of the window, tear it down and then board the window up for the show.
“Every day brings a different challenge, whether we’re on tour, working on corporate shows, festivals or someplace else,” Ortega explained, “That’s why we do this, and we wouldn’t be if it were easy, simple and boring.”
Coachella Music Festival 2018
In order to go all out for the Flower Boy Tour’s Coachella Music Festival debut, Gallagher presented four vertical 30′ tall trees and changed the configuration of the hill to create a curve effect. These additions helped transform the forest set to fill the massive Coachella Main Outdoor Stage.
Ortega highlighted the challenges Tyler’s two Coachella sets faced them with in April 2018.
“The festival allowed only 15 minutes for our team to set up the forest before Tyler hit the stage. After we practiced a few trial runs with a timer, we managed to put everything into place within the given time frame,” Ortega concluded.