“ARE YOU READY… FOR POST… MALO-O-O-O-O-O-NE?” screeches Jaden Smith Tuesday night at Rod Laver Arena. He’s all hype, this kid. Skipping along the stage to his maximalist cloud-rap, you feel a weird pathos for the guy – none of us have to go this far to escape the shadow of the Fresh Prince.
SYRE, Smith’s debut album from late 2017, is easier to understand visually than it is sonically. Neon pink baseball bats, Nike Mags, and Tesla Model Xs collage together underneath Californian sunsets. In videos projected behind him, Smith rolls around in slow motion rewind and vomits… artfully.
If we all had as much money and time as Smith, is this the art we’d all end up making? However, the overt silliness of the visuals is overcome by the fact that SYRE actually isn’t that bad – all glitchy production and cloud-rap emotion, truly the product of a 19-year-old (Smith’s age when he released it).
Smith comes off as a more insecure version of the night’s first opener Tyla Yaweh, another cloud-rapper without the production budget. Yaweh has a starry-eyed magnetism to him, he’s as much the kid at the party dancing to Kid Cudi as he is someone who might end up working with him. He sings about star signs and dancing like Michael Jackson. Yaweh almost takes a tumble off stage at one point, but owns it: “Man I just busted my ass right here”.
Austin Richard Post pulls the kind of crowds that only a guilty pleasure could. Running the gamut from kids who may as well be at their first concert, first year uni students heading to King Street, and the IT staffers sitting in front of me, Post Malone’s genre bending hip-hop has a cross cultural appeal which means he can get away with calling it “sauce”.
Strutting and sashaying along his own personal catwalk, Post carries the entire performance on his shoulders – not to an entirely successful outcome, mind. Without any DJ, band, and with only one or two real surprises in the setlist, the feeling of sameness begins to set in during the second half. If you wanted proof of just how similar a lot of Post Malone’s music is, an hour is probably all you need.
Nearing the end, Posty pulls a cover of Return of the Mac out, but its introduction is weirdly hamfisted, and strangely out of place after an acoustic performance of Stay and the slow stomp of Leave.
The highlights are definitely there though, and they’re what you’d expect. Better Now steps things up early, Wow. rolls into Psycho, an anthemic performance of Sunflower paints the room with a joyous gold and is the best song of the night. Leaving Rockstar as the penultimate song makes sense in more ways than one, its thick grimy atmosphere slows things right down before the explosion of Congratulations.
If you weren’t convinced about Post Malone, his outing at Rod Laver probably wouldn’t change your mind. But the loyal most certainly remained so, and were well serviced for their dedication.
Check out our gallery from the night here.