Bryson Tiller's Los Angeles 'Set It Off' Show and the Pros and Worries of Suprise Guests

by Brad Wete

Bryson Tiller at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on August 14 | Shot by Isaac von Hallberg

Bryson Tiller at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on August 14 | Shot by Isaac von Hallberg

“Y’all ready to set it off?” asked Bryson Tiller often last night (August 14) at the Greek Theatre for the Los Angeles leg of his Set It Off tour. When the audience reacted with cheers, they were gifted with surprise guests. Early on, duo Rae Sremmurd shot onto the stage with the force of two pumped Super Soakers. Then came O.T. Genasis, bopping along to his platinum single “Cut It.”

“Y’all ready to set it off?”

Big Sean jumped out to a manic crowd for “Bounce Back.” Travis Scott drove them to a frenzy as he sprinted out for “Butterfly Effect.” Later, Bryson mentioned that it’d only be right to invite a California legend out, so Long Beach’s Snoop Dogg moseyed along for “Drop It Like It’s Hot.”

Flaunt's March 2017 Bryson Tiller Feature

Truly, the Theatre’s marquee should have read "Bryson Tiller and Friends" (some were more friends than others, though; Tiller revealed that he had just met Snoop prior to the show). It was the type of concert that many expect in a big city, star-studded simply because they're in a market where many celebs work, play and live. And as the night wrapped, I wondered why artists capable of flexing their pull-power and rolodex of talented buddies who want to come out for a song or two sometimes choose not to.

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Well, let’s start with ego. An artist has to have a great deal of self-confidence to invite peers to steal their audience’s affection from them, one hit record at a time. Sean, Scott, Sremmurd and, obviously, T.I. (yeah, he came, too) and Snoop all have a bigger collection of widely loved, platinum singles. Why spare even a bit of your designated 60-90 minutes on stage to let other people rock? Why allow artists of arguably greater star wattage to step in front of your shine when recap articles like this spend the bulk of their words talking about the massive special guests and not the host? (By the way, I’m currently four paragraphs in and haven’t mentioned a thing Tiller did—aside from witness his friends make sweet love to his fans.)

The answer is simple: The shit’s fun as hell. And if you pull it off the right, you come off looking like a boss. Thankfully, Tiller did it well. There was no mistaking that it; The night was his. From his stellar production to the well-manicured set list, his solo time on stage was all thriller and no filler. After one star came and went, he’d perform a banger of his own like "Sorry Not Sorry” or his verse from DJ Khaled and Rihanna’s “Wild Thoughts,” or “Exchange” and Afro-bounce cut “Run Me Dry.”

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Tiller closed with his 2015 cut “Don’t,” a cautionary tale about the things one shouldn’t do in a relationship. It’s still his biggest single (though there are songs on his sophomore album True to Self that may chase it off the throne). I’ll wrap this article up with a warning on my own: If you’re not confident enough to believe that you can leave a lasting impression on your audience when you bring out your peers, you’re probably right. Don't.

It’s not worth the risk. The threat of more than 5000 people leaving the Greek Theatre thinking more about the Friends than Bryson was real. But signs of his victory were apparent as several cars drove off into the night, Tiller tunes spilling out of their speakers. When you’re as confident as he seemed up there all night, it's probably safe to assume he was never worried at all. The most lit evenings happen when stars beam together.


Written by Brad Wete