“Hi, my name is Austin Richard Post and I’m here to play you some music and get fucked up while we dooooo iiiiit,” screams Post Malone to a packed-out field, just a short while after Twenty One Pilots’ all-singing, all-dancing, back-flipping, pyrotechnic rock circus just blew Reading 2019 away in their co-headline slot.
With just a curtain of blue flames, the US face-tat rap phenomenon stands on stage alone – no band, no dancers, no DJ, not even a hype man. He doesn’t need it. There’s a charisma and connection that makes it feel all the more intimate, despite the fact that he’s one of the biggest draws of the weekend.
From the mad bounce of ‘Wow.’, the sass and swagger of ‘No Option’, the party-starting ‘Candy Paint’ to the sweet balladry of ‘Stay’, he holds these kids in the palm of his hand. Bumbags slung over their shoulders, two fingers in their air, raving throughout, this generation have the Reading Festival headliner that they really want – unfiltered, unchained and just as wild as them.
It’s a huge leap from his late afternoon set last year, but watching the love he receives tonight it seems only natural. Still, he’s humbled to disbelief. “Thank you so fucking much,” he says probably about 48 times.
Later, he tells Reading of how he was obsessed with playing Guitar Hero as a kid, before he begged his mother to buy him his first real six-string before he started rapping and “everything changed”. “People would call me a one-hit wonder,” he goes on, “they’d call me every name under the fucking sun, they’d never see me headlining Reading & Leeds”. Dedicating the closing track ‘Congratulations’ to those same doubters and haters, he tells us: “This is my way of saying live your life, live your dreams”.
After the crowd goes nuts once last time, the show doesn’t end with the same pomp and bluster of Twenty One Pilots’ firework spectacular, but just a spotlight and a few parting words on how we’re all one with “no, hate, no violence, no bullshit, just love. “My name is Austin Richard Post and I love you more than you can ever know”. Then he’s gone. Another Reading headliner is born, but this time with no gimmicks or bells or whistles or tricks. Just some fire, a whole lotta love, and one bonafide rockstar.
Post Malone’s setlist was:
Zack and Codeine
I Fall Apart