Pittsburgh Current Intern
“My name is Austin Richard Post. I’m here to play sh*tty music, and get f*cked up,” Post Malone told his sold-out audience Monday night, at PPG Paints Arena. Malone took a sip from his Bud Light solo cup, raising a toast to the crowd.
Malone was wearing a white, airbrushed t-shirt, with “Rip Mac Miller” across the chest, and roses around the sleeves and back. Malone released the t-shirt soon after Miller’s passing. He did not comment on the late artist, leaving his t-shirt a stand-alone tribute to his friend and Pittsburgh’s native son.
Tyla Yaweh and Swae Lee opened for Malone, revving the audience for the main attraction. Swae Lee – one half of the group Rae Schumer – was a hit with those who had taken their seats before Post appeared. His high energy ran through the arena, just as he did jumping over the barriers and running through the pits and floor sections. He also threw roses to his fans, apparently flowers were a common theme for this night.
The lights dimmed just before 10 p.m. as Malone took the stage. A large black box the size of the stage occupied the platform and slowly began to rise, flashing orange lights as it rose in accordance with the guitar intro. The box was misleading, as I was waiting for something far more exciting to occur, and the set up was an unnecessary 30 minute process. Nevertheless, once Post took the stage the lights enhanced his performance.
The stage was set up like a runway, and Post worked it as such. He strutted up and down the “catwalk” adding emotional prefaces to his songs, as well as a passionate, raspy vibrato to numerous numbers, including “Fall Apart,” “Goodbyes,” and “Stay.”
The lyrics to these songs, while vulnerable and emotion-evoking, are not the reason they strike the audience as they do. That comes from the performance. He could be singing about taking a shower, but the passion that he attaches to that raspy smoker’s falsetto is what lead’s to his incredible performance.
While Malone added a personal vulnerability to the songs that struck the audience most, he also included an infectious energy throughout the stadium during his most popular radio hits like “Circles,” and “Better Now.” The energy was so strong that the woman in front of me fell over. She was not alone in her instability, as the four gentlemen a few rows down were bouncing up and down with such vigor that they fell like dominoes.
The stage was adorned by two large screens, often depicting psychedelic images or Sonic the Hedgehog, like dashes as he danced around the stage. While my seat was close enough that I could see Malone without use of the monitors, I would have been disappointed by the graphics if I had been higher up, as it was almost impossible to make out the details of the artist during this effect.
During some of his hauntingly beautiful songs, Malone would drop into a deep squat when belting out the last note of a lyric. The pose was a favorite of his, as he often fell into it, deep in concentration of his ghostly songs.
Malone’s songs vary between a deep, emotional heartbreak, and an energetic beat aimed for party environments. The lighting directors did a wonderful job matching each number’s theme. “Sunflower,” accompanied by Swae Lee, had the perfect yellow lights moving around the stadium as the two artists threw sunflowers to their adoring fans.
At one point, Post Malone touched every man, woman and child in the stadium during “Stay.” Unlike his strut down the catwalk during the majority of his numbers, Malone set up a chair and acoustic guitar to serenade his audience. Never having heard this song before, I was struck with a newfound sense of vulnerability as I couldn’t help but go numb appreciating his hauntingly smooth tone.
Despite the wide array of emotions that Post covers during his performance, he does have a common theme throughout: his chorus’s slap. Whether Malone was singing about heartbreak or “Getting fucked up with your best friends,” when the chorus hit his vocal cords hit harder.
The simplicity of the concert’s stage, Malone’s outfit, and his choreography put the spotlight squarely on the music.
“Take What You Want from Me” took the audience by storm as Malone belted over the melody, almost screaming with excitement as he stomped his foot with the beat.
One of the most shocking aspects of his performance was the fire. To the sides of the stage Malone had fire bolts shoot out during “Rock Star.” Personally, I was caught off guard, but the enthusiasm from the fire, the artist, and the audience was the perfect atmosphere for the extremely popular song. In another surprise, during the guitar break of the song, Malone grabbed his acoustic guitar and smashed it into the stage. The audience erupted with approval.
What is possibly the most impressive takeaway from Malone’s performance is his ability to change his voice. While the majority of his choruses maintain an almost howling-like aesthetic, his phrases – while at times incomprehensible – took on a shaky, or conversely smooth tone, calming the audience before the storm of his chorus.
Malone closed his show with “Congratulations.” He said he was the “luckiest man in the world,” to be able to sing to his fans, and that he “couldn’t ask for a better blessing.” This gracious attitude carried all throughout his show as he often ended his songs with praises to his audience and a bow sprinkled here and there to spice things up.
Photos from the sold-out performance below: