Published Oct 04, 2019"Tell me: Has anyone in here seen the second-newest Spider-Man movie?"
This is how Post Malone hypes the first of two soldout crowds buzzing at Scotiabank Arena, before launching into his comic-book film soundtrack hit, "Sunflower," from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Opening act Swae Lee, of Rae Sremmurd fame, hops back onstage for the blockbuster duet, and the scene drills home just how popular the laconic, face-tattooed songwriter has become.
Posty's decidedly dressed-down approach, slouchy gait and undercurrent of self-deprecation stand in sharp contrast to the pop superstar the 24-year-old has become, the kind of musical celebrity who can have winding lines of all-ages fans queuing up to purchase $60 concert T-shirts and $105 sweatshirts.
After kicking off his 37-date Runaway arena tour with the title track of his latest No. 1 album, Hollywood's Bleeding, and his Grammy-nominated monster "Better Now," Post pauses to introduce himself to his frenzied following through the plumes of fake smoke and laser lights.
"My name is Austin Richard Post," he says, "and I came to play some shitty music and get fucked up while we do." Then he busts into "Saint-Tropez," describing the single as one of his rare songs written from a place of happiness.
Malone's set is efficient and loaded with songs everyone knows the words to. He bundles 21 of his most memorable tunes over his rocketing three-album career into a 70-minute performance punctuated by exploding fireballs and the occasional outburst of pyrotechnics.
The fun "Allergic," which Post describes as "the weirdest track on the record," makes him dance a little.
Without the support of a band, a hypeman, or much in the way of creative staging or interesting video concepts, production-wise the Malone arena experience doesn't stray much farther than his club shows of the past. (Unless you count the fireworks, and you should count the fireworks.) But after seeing Kanye West surf a floating stage and Travis Scott ride a rollercoaster through this same venue, there's certainly room to grow.
Face it: Even though his catalogue is doused with heartbreak and self-doubt, the man is a pop star now. Might as well embrace it.
Post won't particularly wow you with his rapping or his singing voice, and even he knocks his guitar skills before pulling out an acoustic six-string to perform "Stay," a lovely change of pace.
But what he does incredibly well is blur the increasingly fuzzy lines between rap, trap, R&B and pop. The man can write a hook.
So the hits, recited with passion over the same instrumentals you've heard time and again on your FM dial, win the night: "Psycho," "Wow," "Goodbyes," "Candy Paint," "Enemies."
When he's not delivering what the people want, Post is expressing gratitude. He thanks his fans so frequently, one gets the sense the artist still finds his level of fame a little discomforting. So, he'll take the odd break to pull from a cigarette or sip from a beer at the edge of the stage. Post Malone is reluctant to go full-blown showman, even though his rise has been rather meteoric since the 2015 Soundcloud release of "White Iverson" — "the song that changed my life," he proclaims.
The concert revs to its climax when Post smashes the aforementioned guitar to pieces — a rare bit of theatrics — during a juiced-up performance of "Rockstar."
He pauses to give all the young ears out there a bit of advice before concluding, appropriately, with "Congratulations" and more fireworks.
"Live your dream. Live your truth," Post says. "Be whatever the fuck you wanna be."