The Kid LAROI’s absence was sorely felt but wholly understood. Three years ago, he supported his mentor Juice WRLD on a run of shows around the country. That tour would be Juice WRLD’s last, as he died of a drug overdose just weeks later. LAROI, 16 years old at the time, had the man guiding him to superstardom suddenly snatched from him. With the one showing him the ropes gone and a history-altering pandemic on the horizon, the odds seemed stacked against Charlton Howard.
But The Kid LAROI’s May 26 concert in Sydney – his first hometown show in three years, and the first stop of the ‘End of the World’ tour – proved his talent and charm would always see him through, and that luck had nothing to do with it.
Playing to a sold-out Qudos Bank Arena, LAROI ascended a large set of stairs decorated with faux flower bushes, mirroring a climb to global domination the likes of Sydney have rarely seen. With bushy blonde hair, a sleek leather jacket and, to quote the kid himself, his “good pants”, he had the crowd instantly enamoured with the opener ‘Let Her Go’.
As he stomped and screamed his way through the intense emotional terrain of his ‘F*CK LOVE’ series, it became clear that this local has developed a radiance that only those on the world stage can beam. Consider the arsenal of A-list collaborations he unleashed on the crowd – songs with Lil Tecca, Internet Money, Machine Gun Kelly and Marshmello, just to name a few. Leading into ‘Hate The Other Side’, one of several collabs he shared with his late mentor, he conducted a resounding chant of “long live Juice”.
But, even with the worldwide success, LAROI’s connection to country and to his hometown was the show’s strongest motif. The spotlit superstar took multiple breaks throughout the show, taking in the atmosphere, staring in both disbelief and gratitude at the thousands of eyes staring back at him in complete worship. His absence clearly did nothing to dull his love for Sydney, and it clearly only strengthened Sydney’s love for him. In the mere week he’s been back in town, he returned to his home of Waterloo and visited a local youth centre, throwing in a $100,000 donation for good measure. Additionally, he launched his special McDonald’s meal – the first time an Australian musician has done such a thing with the fast food titan.
LAROI’s references to Sydney throughout the show were detailed and frequent. He referenced his last show in the city, at Surry Hills’ 263 Crown Street, where he played to only a few hundred people. He jokingly threatened to leave the stage once the crowd booed the South Sydney Rabbitohs NRL team, after he shouted out a jersey he’d spotted in the sea of fans. He partook in a shoey, standing side by side with a mulleted member of the crowd doing the same thing.
Even his closing words hit the quintessential Aussie nail on the head: “I’m going to get fucked up at the Crown Casino. See ya later.”
His connection to Sydney aside, The Kid LAROI’s First Nations heritage as a Gamilaroi man also informed the course of the show and gave it gravity. The concert was taking place on National Sorry Day, and LAROI made a point to acknowledge its importance. “An incredibly important day when we pay respects to the struggle and pain of the Stolen Generation, ladies and gentlemen,” he said.
To the colossal crowd of 15,000, LAROI spoke with frankness and a vulnerability that, while found in his music, can be obscured by catchy hooks and thumping beats. “It’s also for every single one of us as Australians to reflect on how we can all play a part in closing the gap and coming together as one. I want you to keep that in mind as this show goes on.”
His last two songs, the all-conquering ‘Stay’ and ‘Without You’, perfectly encapsulated what it means to be The Kid LAROI. He threw everything he had into the pop song that defined 2021, and signed off with a more stripped-back acoustic number just so he could take in that crowd one more time, declaring:
“This is what home looks like.”
The Kid LAROI’s homecoming show, above all else, proved one thing: you can take the kid out of Waterloo, but he’ll return a legend.