A Trippy Night With Houston Native Don Toliver

Don Toliver overlooks the crowd at Bayou Music Center.
Don Toliver overlooks the crowd at Bayou Music Center. Photo by Jennifer Lake
Houston's own Don Toliver brought an immersing psychedelic experience to Bayou Music Center Wednesday night for the first of his two-day, back-to-back, sold-out shows.

“You think they’re ready?” Toliver asked his DJ. “Yeah, they’re home team. We’re at home now.”
click to enlarge Don Toliver and his flame covered limousine. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER LAKE
Don Toliver and his flame covered limousine.
Photo by Jennifer Lake
Resembling the likes of a George Clinton or Lazer Floyd concert, the stage was filled with extravagant props including blacklight painted patches of inflatable mushrooms, a giant pot leaf and even a flame painted stretch limousine parked right in the center of the stage. Don used the unique stage set-up to his advantage, hopping on top of the hood of the car to give the audience a better view and of course give the cool aesthetic of rocking out on top of a luxury car.
click to enlarge Don Toliver dances on the hood of a car during his live performance. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER LAKE
Don Toliver dances on the hood of a car during his live performance.
Photo by Jennifer Lake
The inclusion of rock elements into the set was a nice surprise for the hip-hop billboard charting artist. With the high energy of some of his most popular tunes, like “Too Easy,” the accompanying mosh pits were so intense you would think you were at a heavy metal show.

“I love that.” Said Toliver after noticing the massive pit forming in the center of the crowd. “Make it bigger, wider. Cut all the lights off, I want this to go crazy.”
click to enlarge A burst of energy at the Don Toliver concert. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER LAKE
A burst of energy at the Don Toliver concert.
Photo by Jennifer Lake
With the chaos of crowd, the extravagant laser show, and the never-ending stroll through a forest of mushrooms displayed on the giant screen behind the artist, the show bordered on sensory overload, but it was the transition to Tolliver's signature slowed-down tracks that calmly brought everything back down to earth.

Toliver's nasally, high pitched voice makes him one of the most unique singers in the genre today, in a good way. His voice helps amplify his character away from what you normally get from hip-hop singers, which usually lands them in the R&B realm. But Toliver uses his tone to set a more eerie and somewhat trippy cadence into his songs that put a fresh new twist on the signature slowed down sounds of Houston Hip-Hop.

Rolling though a lengthy 20-plus song setlist of highs and lows, Toliver set the bar high for his first night of Houston shows. This gives those in attendance a good preview of what's to come, for the H-Town native will be back for his Cactus Jack Records brother / Missouri City superstar Travis Scott's Astroworld Festival in just a few weeks.

The Life Of A Don Tour celebrates the release of Toliver's second studio album Life Of A Don, the follow up to his 2020 debut release Heaven & Hell. With the steady release of his own positively received music, as well as the variety of collaborative songs with high-profiled artists, such as being featured on Kanye West's recently released Donda and Eminem's 2020, Music To Be Murdered By, we can clearly start to see this hometown artist's rise to stardom as he deservingly makes his way to the top.
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Houston Press contributor Cameron Martinez uses his extensive knowledge of headbanging and bumping into people to give readers an inside look at the city’s music scene. He often tag-teams shows with his camera-savvy wife Jennifer Lake.