Do you buy into Bryson Tiller?

There’s a segment of music fans who see the Louisville, KY singer as an artist who’s nothing more than someone who can manipulate melody while rapping about the ups and downs of relationships, namely the ones where he pushes people away while also figuring out why do said people run to the worst relationships. There’s another segment of music fans who have fallen deep for the young singer. Tillermania has already set the country on fire as Bryson’s first headlining national tour managed to snag multiple dates where tickets are already sold out. And the tour doesn’t even begin until next year.

Warehouse Live was the setting for a Tiller one off, a Rap-A-Lot/YEMG hosted affair where Brian Angel opened and more women dragged their boyfriends and temporary dates closer to get a better view. Some men got offended, knowing full well that Tiller hadn’t even hit the stage yet. What Bryson Tiller does, ever since we first got a whiff of “Don’t” or even T R A P S O U L is run with a melody, a rather hypnotizing one where he could flip between rapping and singing with relative ease. What Warehouse Live got was a performer appreciative of his newfound fame but still growing as a live act.

When he hit the stage, the women in attendance roared, squealing whenever he would teeter close to the edge of the stage before darting back. Two huge LED boards stood on the side of Tiller with his motion limited to working the opposing sides of the stage. The colorful LED gave way to colorful interpretation of some songs, representing different moods and in the case of “Rambo”, multiple images of actual Rambo footage spliced in with Vietnam clips. In terms of visual appeal, the side aspects of Bryson Tiller’s stage show reel you in. But, when you get to the records, especially those presented in a nine-song set, you realize how often the crowd dominates Tiller’s vocals, how women in particular mask the fact that he’s not a knock down vocalist but a pretty damn good songwriter.

Tiller opened up about his personal life Friday night. He spoke about quitting music to get a real job on behalf of his 2-year-old daughter, of how he had to call friends to borrow money and more. He talked about friends constantly urging him to continue with the music, even becoming an inspiration to Houston rapper and noted friend WhyJae to keep going. The bigger Tiller songs, “Exchange”, “Sorry Not Sorry” and slow closer “Don’t” felt like karaoke, a entire room of women swaying back and forth singing their favorite song from the radio or Soundcloud or YouTube. These girls were trained, raised on the kind of faux vulnerability that when you think about it — are the DMs and texts and game you hear from dudes who don’t want relationships but don’t want you in a relationship.

There were considerable lulls, more audible moments where the crowd could be heard more than Tiller’s actual singing. The more rap friendly moments such as “Set You Free” and “Ten Nine Fourteen” felt like Tiller was an opener on his own big show, the crowd listless for moments while Tiller paced with in rap hands and more. I’ll admit that it was his first major Houston show, on the same stage where Drake did a similar thing about six years ago and eventually got better. Tiller has room to improve in conveying his songwriting into stage presence and these massive records that feel like they were tailor made for the ADD college student of the moment. There’s a great story behind Bryson Tiller and people are willing to pay for it, some 5x more than face value in case of Warehouse Live. More than a few Tiller fans remarked on Twitter during the show that they paid $150 or more to catch his Houston debut.

They bought into the hype of Bryson Tiller. A sold-out crowd showed up scantily clad, IG boutique dress ready and proud to sing along. They got their own karaoke style reunion with Tiller playing maestro. He didn’t have to do a whole hell of a lot to win people over — which may be his actual calling.

So, did I fall for Bryson Tiller? Not really. Not that I’m a hard critic to impress but you start noticing when someone is trying to find their groove, find something that sticks. Bryson Tiller still have room to grow on stage, to at least find a way to match the energy from records like “Rambo” and “Don’t”. The sing-along aspect is there. Now if only he could stretch it even further.