New York City is the home to tough crowds and harsh critics, but Bryson Tiller was ready. From the first time I heard Pen Griffey’s hit single “Don’t,” it was hard to deny his greatness. With just 10 uploaded tracks in the past year that had accumulated thousands and even millions of clicks, he didn’t seem far from finding a formula fit to take over the Internet and beyond.
His double-show at New York City’s S.O.B.’s on Wednesday night (Oct. 21) was the perfect platform for his first East Coast show. A breeding ground for rising talent (young Kanye once performed there), the intimate venue was sold out with fans ready to shrug off life’s baggage and turn up to Tiller’s debut TRAPSOUL.
The Rap&B MVP confidently hit the stage a few minutes past 9 p.m. casually wearing a TRAPSOUL t-shirt, Nike hat, plaid button up and hoodie. No chains or dancing diamonds. Just Bryson. He murmured a few melodies into the mic, starting the show with the project’s first track appropriately titled “Intro (Difference)“.
“Ladies, you ready to get set free?,” he smirked, gazing into mixed crowd. When the beat of “Let Em’ Know” dropped, hands immediately went up. Whatever reservations the 22-year-old may have had of his first New York City gig were nonexistent.
Seamlessly slipping into the mid-tempo cuts “Set You Free” and “Ten Nine Fourteen,” he followed up with a little flexing on the rhyme-heavy “Rambo” and “502 Come Up,” reminiscing on his humble Louisville beginnings. Thirty minutes into his set, Bryson slowed down the pace with fan favorites “Don’t,” “Exchange,” and “Been That Way,” showing off his inner Casanova. You know, that “freak and friend” who’s “into everything you’re into” that he kindly refers to on “Just Another Interlude.” A frazzled female fan in the front row was screaming at her dreamboat, “Oh yeah, boo, sing it!” while recording the entire performance on her smartphone.
At Tiller’s best, he’s emo in a good way, an honest and emotional millennial whose lyrics stroke the soul. For every gal at S.O.B.’s that night, there was a dude contently bobbing his head and uttering every word verbatim, including the more sentimental tunes, too. Several times during the show, fans drowned out Bryson’s vocals, which sound identical to the Louisville rep you hear in your headphones. His dance moves are few (a side-to-side arm wave here and there), but his stage presence lives up to the feels each tracks purveys.
Meanwhile, the chick next to me was getting her absolute life from Young Tiller. Tiller got the ladies! A video posted by ashley monaé (@chicmonae) on
As the night came to a close, Tiller decided to gift fans with “Just Another Interlude,” flipping “Bria’s Interlude” by Drake and mentor-in-his-head, Omarion, who happened to be at the show. Young Tiller’s set at S.O.B.’s added another gold star to his already glistening resume, fulfilling (and probably exceeding) expectations for his first gig in the Empire State. Landing cosigns from Drake and Timbaland was one thing, partnering with RCA Records and releasing his debut project was another, but in this moment, he rose to the occasion and the only way for him is up.