On a drizzly and muggy October evening, platinum-selling artist Post Malone brought a few friends and all of the hits to American Airlines Arena in Miami. It was everything his fans wanted.
But it could have been so much more.
The crowd skewed younger, albeit with a few parents and at least one quartet of women clad in matching Post Malone shirts, clearly on a moms’ night out. Such is the generational crossover appeal of the 24-year-old singer-songwriter/rapper. Hispanic bros and blond girls on holiday from their suburban bubbles came out last night for the first installment of the hitmaker’s two-night South Florida stop.
Also out on a school night: a few of Post Malone’s friends, including openers Tyla Yaweh and Swae Lee, as well a couple of surprise guests.
First up was a Florida kid from Orlando, Tyla Yaweh. In Hebrew, Yahweh is the sacred name of God. This Yaweh is no celestial being, but he does have the qualities of a star in the making. Bouncing onstage while sporting his red-and-green “Rockstar kilt,” a black vinyl jacket, and hot-pink dreads, Tyla Yaweh manifested both the evolution of hip-hop and Post Malone’s influence on emerging artists. The fashion normally reserved for an edgy pop star or a rebellious punk singer in the ’80s is now the fare of an introspective rapper singing about drugs to ease his emotional pain. He ingratiated himself to the crowd through a lively performance that saw him jump the security to run up into the 100 section and rage with fans one-on-one. He closed his set by posting his actual cell phone number (Orlando area code 407!) and asking the crowd to text him.
Next up was Swae Lee, half of the rap duo Rae Sremmurd. Though he’s riding solo sans his brother Slim Jxmmi for this tour, he brought some of the hits that got him here. His intro was flashier than Tyla Yaweh’s, but he soon slipped into a mellow dreaminess that slowed the proceedings almost to a halt. A set that included lyrics about melatonin and sativa felt a little sleepy at times. Highlights included a surprise appearance by Rich the Kid for “Plug Walk” and a sultry female dancer who performed several splits and simulated lap dances. But he didn’t truly rouse his audience until he broke out the Rae Sremmurd hits. He got so hyped for “Black Beatles,” in fact, he ripped off his tank top and dove into the pit.
When an actual curtain finally rose on the headliner, Post Malone came out to thundering bass elevated by thundering applause. He wore a number 88 Michael Irvin jersey — a dual nod to his beloved hometown Dallas Cowboys and the University of Miami football legend. While the Cowboys kicked the crap out of the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday Night Football, Austin Richard Post stepped into the Miami spotlight to play “shitty songs to get fucked up to.”
The set began with a bang, as the pyrotechnics crew ignited the first of several eardrum-destroying fireworks. Gigantic screens projected Post Malone’s image while the artist barreled through the title track of his latest LP, Hollywood’s Bleeding, plus “Better Now,” “Saint-Tropez,” “Psycho,” “Wow,” and his entire chart-topping discography. The mammoth height of the screens mirrored the astronomical heights he has reached in five short years.
In his jersey and pajama pants, Post Malone looks like the kind of guy who should be sitting at home on the couch with his beers and bongs while watching his ‘Boys on TV. But as has always been the case with him, looks can be deceiving. Serving as his own back-up singer, Post Malone performed the majority of his show alone by harmonizing with prerecorded vocals. While many in the crowd were partying like they didn’t have to work Monday, Post Malone was doing his work, here and now.
Although this is officially called the Runaway Tour, a more apt title would be the Runway Tour. Post Malone spent the majority of the set sashaying up and down the stage/catwalk beneath a cloud that appeared to rain prisms of color in lieu of water. The visuals reflected the contrasts in lyrics that alternate between the delighted and the depressed.
Owing to Post Malone’s wild popularity and his singles’ ubiquity, even the most casual fan could enjoy this show. He doesn’t need to reach down for deep cuts, because the deep cuts are the hits. The problem — if indeed it’s a problem — was that the performance of each song became increasingly repetitive: He struts, he sings, the lights flash, next song, do it all over again. The nearly exclusive use of backing tracks for vocals and instrumentation compounded the invariability. He broke the pattern only once, by pulling out a stool and an acoustic guitar (which he smashed at the end of the show) for “Stay.”
Post Malone is now such a huge star that only an arena can accommodate his fans. Shouldn’t his stage show match the size of his video screens and his talent? A live band, back-up singers, and a few “Rockstar” moments would dial up this show to 11. (Admittedly, the explosions and fireballs, the sight of Ozzy Osbourne’s scowling face, and a cameo by French Montana were nice touches.)
The duet with Swae Lee on “Sunflowers” (from the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse soundtrack) was sweet, with Swae bringing out actual sunflowers and the pair sharing a hug. Post Malone’s seemingly sincere thanks (“You changed my fucking life”) and inspirational words (“keep fucking kicking ass”) in the lead-in to the global hit “Congratulations” spoke to both his personality and his appeal.
In the end, there’s a strong probability none of Post Malone’s Miami fans went home disappointed — because all that really mattered was that solitary figure who worked so hard he forgot to vacation.