The rapper Post Malone brought it “home,” as he calls his adopted residence of Utah, with a high-energy performance Tuesday night in Vivint Smart Home Arena.
He began with a self-deprecating introduction: “My name is Austin Richard Post and I came to play some s---ty music and get a little f---ed up while we do it.” He held up a cup and drank from it, and the crowd cheered when he offered a toast to them.
Malone wore a ‘90s replica Utah Jazz jersey, paying tribute to his namesake, NBA Hall of Famer Karl Malone, whose name and number hang in the arena’s rafters. Karl Malone himself was in attendance, cheering the rapper on, in a moment captured by the arena’s social media team.
Post Malone opened his set Tuesday with his track “Reputation,” which showcased his powerful voice and set a marker for fans with its lyrics, “I got a reputation that I can’t deny / You’re the superstar, entertain us.”
His setlist featured prominently songs from his most recent album, “Twelve Carat Toothache.” According to the Apple Music summary of the album, Malone moved into a house in Malibu, Calif., and used his “restless” energy to express himself, after going stir-crazy during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Billboard reported that, before the pandemic, Malone traded the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles for a mountainside home in Utah — where, he said, there were “very few distractions.”)
Malone mixed it up by working his older hits — “the oldies but goodies,” as he put it — into the set. The crowd were engaged on all of his songs, but seemed to really get going with such hits as “Better Now” and “Circles.”
The crowning jewel of Malone’s performance was his intimate stage set-up, which extended throughout the floor area with small circle platforms for him to stand on and interact with all portions of the crowd.
The staging was particularly effective when Malone slowed it down mid-set, strumming an acoustic guitar on the tracks “Stay,” “Go Flex” and “Circles.”
Playing guitar while holding a lit cigarette, Malone showcased his range as a performer in this part of the show. The fans sang along just as loudly during the acoustic portion as they did for his more popular hits — and Malone’s choice to perform “Circles” partially acoustic was a perfect way to transition seamlessly to the more fast-paced parts of his performance.
The minimal staging — with no backing band, and featuring subtle but efficient lighting effects — kept the emphasis on Malone’s performance. There were occasional bursts of pyrotechnics (like on “When I’m Alone,” where the fireworks got particularly loud and smoky), but mostly the focus was on Malone and his music.
Malone took a moment to talk about his new role as a father. (He and his fiancee, whose identity has not been made public, had a baby girl in June, Malone told Howard Stern.) The crowd cheered his rad-dad dance moves, and some danced along in their seats. A father/daughter duo even had copied Malone’s trademark face tattoos on their own faces.
Malone paused to pay tribute to Takeoff, a member of the hip-hop trio Migos, who was shot and killed in Houston early Tuesday morning. Malone called Takeoff, who was 28, “a good friend,” while tearing up.
The show’s opening act, Roddy Ricch, also honored Takeoff, performing “Die Young,” a song he wrote after the death of the rapper XXXTentacion, who was shot and killed in 2018.
Ricch, who supports Malone on the track “Cooped Up,” performed several songs that prominently featured the n-word. Ricch is Black, but the vast majority of the audience at The Viv was white — and hearing those audience members echoing back Ricch’s reopened the question of white audiences thinking they can use a racial slur while singing along with a Black performer. (This comes a day after a group of Cedar City teens were filmed wearing black face in a Walmart.)
Malone’s “Twelve Carat” tour has been tumultuous. He had to pause the tour in September, after he fell through an open trap door in the stage in St. Louis’ Enterprise Center, bruising his ribs. He performed the next few shows, then canceled a show in Boston, citing breathing difficulties.
Malone encouraged the Salt Lake City crowd to “keep spreading love,” as he plucked a sunflower from a hand in the crowd and tucked it into the pocket of his shorts. He admitted he was scared “s---less” of going on stage every night, afraid people would forget the songs and nobody would want to come.
“Thank you so much for making me feel like I belong,” he told the crowd. “I’ve been here for a couple of years now and I gotta say, this is one of my favorite places in the f---ing universe.”