Awkward and cringy – Post Malone performs at Melbourne Showgrounds

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Post Malone ★
Melbourne Showgrounds, November 30

Red fireworks burst into the sky like flares at sea, as rain showers down on a sold-out crowd waiting to see American rapper Post Malone.

Post Malone performs at Melbourne Showgrounds on November 30, 2023.Credit: Richard Clifford

A group of fans are rejected from the golden circle, the central pit in front of the stage. They complain as they’re ushered behind a tree roughly a hundred metres from the area they’d purchased tickets for.

The same happens to another group, who show me their tickets but have also been issued the wrong wristband. Another group returns from the ticket booth, having complained about their tickets. They say they are told there are no more golden circle wristbands so they’re relegated to general admission. These fans paid hundreds of dollars. They’ve travelled for hours to be here.

A Live Nation spokeswoman on Friday denied golden circle tickets were oversold. “We are perplexed with these claims because we had ample wristbands printed for the golden circle sales, and no issues were reported last night to the event control centre, event or site offices during the show.”

One of the rejected fans resists the solemn mood of his friendship group, sculling a can of beer before breaking out in a wild dance. It’s raining heavily now. The group watches the lone dancer for a moment before seeking shelter beneath the merch stands.

The show has the veneer of hip-hop with pop, rock and R&B drippings.Credit: Richard Clifford

“Post Malone”, members of the crowd tell me, “is a sad character or an antihero or both.” I’m told he is an introvert, an outsider, an outcast – as if that hasn’t been the story of every rapper since the inception of hip-hop. “He’s different.” they assure me.

The show has the veneer of hip-hop with pop, rock and R&B drippings. The genres are scattered and messy, and it feels as though Post Malone isn’t comfortable in his own tattooed skin. Maybe that’s the point. From where we stand, the rapper can only be seen on giant pixelated screens.

There’s a startling distraction of more fireworks as he sings unconvincingly, “I’ve been f–kin’ hoes and poppin’ pillies / Man, I feel just like a rockstar / All my brothers got that gas / And they always be smokin’ like a Rasta.” He waves around a guitar, dances awkwardly, some find it charming, and then brings The Kid Laroi on stage to perform Bleed – which becomes the only highlight of the show.

The music feels like indie pop’s answer to hip-hop. I wonder if this is what the whitewashing of hip-hop culture sounds like? It’s clear, the audience can relate to his broken personality in a way I can’t.

“Post Malone”, I’m told, “is a sad character or an antihero or both.”Credit: Richard Clifford

In what’s meant to be a moment of catharsis, Post Malone asks a fan to join him on stage for a shoey. The shoey has become something of a motif in his shows.

Pouring beer into a shoe and drinking it has become a strange ritual that visiting artists are often forced into in their Australian shows.

It is also a stunt synonymous with First Nations UFC fighter Bam Bam Tuivasa (dubbed “shoeyvasa”), who brawls against the odds, crawling out of cage fights with blood splattered across his face before raising a Nike TN full of liquor, a Western Sydney-style toast, before throwing the sweaty drink down the hatch. It’s something of a counter-culture coronation.

Post Malone’s shoey isn’t anything like that. I’ve seen more gravitas in toasts of VB at the local cricket club.

And if it’s an attempt to connect with Australian culture, it feels about as cringy as opening a hip-hop show with Angus Stone. Angus Stone was the opening act.

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