Post Malone At Barclay Center, Saturday, December 29th, 2018, Reviewed
“Thank you so very fucking much, ladies and gentlemen, thank you,” said smooth talking, modern world, rap pop superstar Post Malone. Center stage for his entire 75 minute set on Saturday night, you would have been wise not to let his face tattoos fool ya, the man who saw his first soundcloud song, a race appropriation track called “White Iverson,” change his life overnight, is somewhere between Elvis Presley on the Steve Allen show and Kid Rock at the Dysfunctional picnic. The first rush of success is over, and with a sophomore album dropped this year, and two new hit singles dropped this month, so is the second wave and he can relax.
The audience at Barclay Center were white, middle class, and young, high school and college kids, who greeted Post with yelps of pleasure. Post, who kept the audience waiting till past 10pm, probably because he doesn’t perform long sets (God knows how he is gonna fill the time at tonight’s New Year’s Eve gig at the same venue), still gave the fans their money’s worth. In a world where Travis Scott stuck a roller coaster in the arenas where he was performing, there is nothing on the stage, not a band, not a desk, not a thing except Post front and center performing one hit after another, interrupted only by the 23 year old charmer giving brief commentary on how he came to write a song. It shouldn’t have worked so well, it should have been a bore, but the superfresh catchiness of his sad songs about happy things, and the radiated joy of Malone, kept the entire Center in his firm grip.
Three hours earlier, signed to Post’s record label, Florida’s Tyla Yahweh opened the show with an overlong 30 minute set of fair to middling trap with a lot of attitude and energy. Tyla is the story of rappers since the beginning of time: kicked out of his home by his mother and step-father for dealing drugs at the age of fifteen, Tyla hung on the streets with friends and started working on songs. Within a year he had moved to California to kickstart a career and got discovered by Malone and Malone’s manager Dre London, and signed to their label, London Entertainment. Tyla’s live set is equal parts soundcloud anarchy and business as usual hard rap. All backing tapes and braggadocio: shout outs to XXXtentacion and Ski Mask The Slump God were mixed with extortions to fuck the rules, though it is safe to assume not the rules of rap. It wasn’t unpleasant and when Tyla hit his current song “She Bad,” an emo ballad sung spoke, the entire place was behind him.
Lil Pump is one of the progenitors of soundcloud rap, at 18 years of age he has had two huge hits, “Gucci Gang” and the Kanye West song “I Love It”. Lil Pump can certainly rap and is right at the heart of the moment,which means he is stuck fucking about on stage too much. He got thrown out of the lab and on to the stage too soon and his performances are too lazy, and do nothing to prove the kid formerly known as Gazzy Garcia, has a career ahead of him. I mean, except for millions of streams. Funk Flex then provided half an hour of DJing, apparently he has lost 40 pounds and is currently unrecognizable as the guy who used to drop boots of his DJ sessions every other week in the 1990s.
The wait for Post Malone was way too long, almost as long as the set, but it was worth it. Singing along to back up tapes, Post commanded the stage but not through force of character, rather through a personality so sweet it keeps you watching. Post has had his man bun cut off and his hair now looks like it just got released from the psyche ward, his outfit looked like PJs. And except for the mic, and a red solo cup of beer that kept falling over as the bass dropped, and an acoustic guitar he played alone on “Stay” and destroyed ala Pete Townshend on “rock star,” an impressive one strike to the stage shattering blow, it was all Post and only Post. “Stay” and “rockstar” are the two sides to Post, the early 20s stories of lost romance meets the biting, beating rock star.
Yes, the set was really short, and if he had gone from 16 songs to 24 songs, and got on stage at 9 not 10, he’d have filled out the evening properly. But it was a tight, intelligent, and consistently enjoyable evening, Malone hit every hit (and chose the deep album tracks wisely), including the two new ones, “Sunflower” and “Wow.” and if his default mode is a certain melancholia in the face of enormous amounts of good luck, that doesn’t meant there isn’t a lot of happiness in his performance. If you’ve seen the Post and Jimmy Fallon go to Olive Garden you will see precisely what he is. The entertaining segment made Post completely approachable and a cool, everyman star: if he had only passed on the face tattoos the mainstream would be screaming for him. Post introduced “Sugar Wraith” with “This is about working very fucking hard and then finally getting to enjoy all the shit that you’ve worked for…” That’s exactly why this isn’t soundcloud rap, it is mainstream pop: because it is happy to be here.