South London almost witnessed the live debut of his new record IGOR, but something was awry on Peckham Rye
Teenage hypebeasts and Tyler, the Creator fans across London collectively lost their shit on Saturday afternoon, when rapper, former Odd Future frontman, and designer Tyler, the Creator tweeted a picture of himself outside Buckingham Palace: “LONDON; IGOR; 3PM; WILL UPDATE YOU LATER WITH LOCATION”.
The replies flooded in, mainly variations on “HOW TF DID YOU GET INTO THE UK”. The Home Office banned the rapper from reentering the country in 2015, citing lyrics from a 2009 track that “encourage violence and intolerance of homosexuality”. But now, he’s back, he’s wearing a pink suit and a peroxide bowl-cut wig, and he’s going to play his first UK gig in four years!
The Tyler hype was already in full-swing with the artist dropping his new record IGOR 24 hours earlier – the eagerly-awaited follow-up to 2017’s Flower Boy – but when he tweeted: “COPELAND PARK, BUSSEY BUILDING, 3PM”, Tyler stans began positively frothing at the mouth, some even having the audacity to complain that Peckham was "a 60 minute train ride away". Fan culture is fucked up. My own pal Ben was so excited he was angry: “WE’RE GOING NOW!”
Scanning the crowd for a way into south London’s Bussey Building venue is like scrolling through Depop in real life; the wavey kids are out in full force in their waviest garms, desperately trying to catch a glimpse of their one true Messiah. The front gates are locked, so I go around the side looking for another way in. A young Tyler fan lifts up a gate for me to crawl under, leading me to Copeland Park, a kind of ex-industrial warehouse complex now populated by artists’ studios, gallery spaces, and bars – so I repay the favour, and we get in.
We’re met with an enormous mass of teenagers in the square, penned in by waist-high fences and all facing what they’ve collectively deemed to be the front of the *queue*. It’s like GCSE results day in here; there’s a palpable air of anticipation and excitement, of uncertainty, of potential euphoria even. These kids are about to see Tyler’s first performance of his incredible brand new record, which I can only describe as sounding as thick and loud as the block capitals he so loves to write in.
Nothing really happens though, and the mood turns to confusion. People start pointing to possible stage set-ups, where they think Tyler will appear from, but half an hour or so passes (it’s now 3PM at this stage) and the crowd remains unlit. These guys are seasoned queuers, though. They’ve years of accumulated experience camping outside END, SUPREME, and PALACE, they have a week’s supply of food on them at all times ready for these scenarios, as well as mum’s seasonal rail ticket: if you’re a true London clout kid, impromptu drops are your bread and butter.
But something’s awry on Peckham Rye. After an hour or so of baking in the sun, the crowd suddenly surges violently forward, as bottles smash and plastic cups go flying. Excited/worried screams ring out. Again, not too dissimilar to scenes outside the high-end hypebeast stores on drop days. But here, there’s no obvious store entrance, and no new stock to flick through. Instead, the crowd naturally funnels down to the bottom of the complex and gathers at a bottle-neck outside its back entrance.
Virgil Abloh is here and he looks scared and worried pic.twitter.com/AeFgGiUrwW— Patrick Heardman (@PatrickBenjam) May 18, 2019
With nowhere to go, penned in by an enormous 10-foot iron gate in the front, and the excited crowd of hundreds of Tyler stans behind, kids start scaling the surrounding walls, climbing onto houses and roofs – anywhere to avoid the pending crush. This eases the pressure to a not-so dangerous level, but the absence of any real crowd control or police is a little worrying. With no updates, or any clear direction, people amuse themselves, climbing drainpipes, mounting the roofs of surrounding warehouses, cheering a delivery guy who’s trying to get through.
A man desperately pushes past, shouting: “That’s my house, that’s my fucking house!” pointing to the 20 or so kids sitting on top of his garage. The most worried face of all is probably that of Virgil Abloh, though, wavey king and founder of Off-White – the brand accounting for roughly 70 per cent of the outfits in the crowd – who has amazingly found himself completely stuck among “the great Depop unwashed” in an industrial wasteland in Peckham. He is being absolutely hounded. I feel bad for him.
Everyone is sat on this guy's house and he's really not pleased pic.twitter.com/a8rxGRLnKD— Patrick Heardman (@PatrickBenjam) May 18, 2019
The jovial atmosphere turns sour though, as news trickles through that it’s been cancelled. Tyler tweets, this time notably not in capital letters: “Too rowdy, cops cancelled it, go home, i tried, the gate climbing nail in the coffin, they go nervous, too bad was a cool idea”.
A few hopefuls continue to mill around, but the crowd mostly disperse, heading back to Notting Hill or the Home Counties, or wherever they live. Some hear rumours of a secret Brixton show and go annoy the locals in the other south London neighbourhood to no avail. Of the remaining crowd, half head right down Rye Lane to Peckham Wetherspoons, the other half go left to popular arcade bar Four Quarters.
Turns out, it doesn’t work if you announce an unticketed show at a venue with a few hundred capacity when you have over eight million Twitter followers. Still though, full marks for effort and for finally making it into the U.K. Welcome back – still not sure how he got in.
Tyler has since announced official event dates at Brixton O2 Academy in September – tickets go on sale on Friday May 24 here.