The 2am turnout for Post Malone is heaving. Crowded around the diminutive Koko stage, joints are lit and pints are hurled within seconds of his arrival. Late night tiredness be damned – Post’s here to party.
Where his records come off as languid and wilting, live, Post’s emotion-heavy take on rap really pops. ‘Better Now’, cast out as a second track like it’s nothing, is a hit more than worthy of its fevered reaction, while the more lilting likes of ‘Over Now’ find him wracked with emotion, leaning into the mic stand so hard it looks like it might buckle. He’s an artist that thrives on that duality – one minute he’s hop-skipping around the stage, all beaming smiles; the next he’s hunched over an acoustic guitar, spilling his guts.
It’s a shame, then, that for all his understated brilliance, Post feels the need to fall back on the tired, sexist tropes of rap gone by. The moments he most opens up are the ones where he should really take a step back – the aforementioned ‘Over Now’ is somewhat soured by his announcement that it’s “about some stupid bitch that hurt my feelings”, while ‘I Fall Apart’ (dedicated once again to “a stupid fuckin’ bitch that broke my heart”) is utterly ruined by his insistence on getting the entire crowd to chant “fuck that bitch” before it kicks in. Half posturing, outdated rap bravado, and half teenage angst taken to its worst degree, it mars what could’ve been a redemptive set for a polarising figure.
When he drops the brattiness, though, Post Malone shows there’s something worth holding onto beyond the hype. “Who’s here with their best friends tonight?” he asks as the set begins its victory lap. “This one’s about raging with your best friends – it’s called ‘Go Flex’.” Beers are once again flung skyward and mates are hugged tight, and as he segues into the anthemic ‘Rockstar’ and ‘Congratulations’ to close, it’s proof that – if he drops the bullshit – Post Malone is more than worthy of his rising stature.