All photos courtesy of Eric Zaworski
The crowd at Post Malone's first Toronto show seemed to be expecting something. Half of the attendees were there for the good time, either finding themselves at the Mod Club donned in throwback Allen Iverson jerseys to see the "White Iverson" rapper, or to support one of the opening local acts for CMW. The other half was there out of curiosity, waiting with arms folded to see if this internet rapper's online presence would translate into a good live set. But when Post Malone sauntered onto the stage just after 11PM, none of those expectations mattered anymore, as it became obvious that this kid is just here to have fun.
Wearing a Jason "White Chocolate" Williams jersey, Malone danced and twirled his way across the stage as his song played, rapping aloud over the backing track. As far as live performances go, it left a lot to be desired, but there was something infectious about Malone's spirit. It may have been the enviable optimism that comes from a rapper born in 1996 who's getting booked for music festivals off the strength of one song, or maybe it was because the drinking age in Canada allowed the 19-year-old to get a little looser, but there was just an aura of fun that seemed to cloud Post.
His short set was bookended by two performances of "White Iverson" as he worked through the four songs on his Soundcloud page and some unreleased music, but Post showed some potential at time. His vocal register soared for bursts of his set, and during his performance of "Too Young," if you closed your eyes and drowned out the drums, you would swear you're at a pop-punk show. However, Post never seems like he's trying too hard. This is part of his charm, but it's also frustrating when you get to see those glimpses of raw talent that you wish could be stretched a bit more. He seems to purposefully never take himself seriously, adopting a character that best resembles Disney's Goofy.
He's not a singer, but he sings well—and you wish he would more. He's not a dancer, but he hit the Shmoney Dance, the Nae Nae, and that staggered walk-dance from "We Dem Boyz" on several occasions. Post seems to still be unsure of who he is, and watching him figure it out in a live setting makes for an interesting show.
At the end of Post's set, the audience poured out of the venue while still singing the chorus to "White Iverson." It wasn't clear if everyone's expectations had been met or exceeded, but it was obvious that everyone had fun. And if a live performance was able to illicit that feeling, maybe it didn't matter if it wasn't on your terms. Post Malone probably doesn't care about what you expect from him, and as he develops into a more well-rounded artist that stubbornness will hopefully turn into amazing art. But if he doesn't develop and this is his peak, he's going to be sure he has fun. Maybe Austin Post is more like Allen Iverson than he even realizes.
Slava Pastuk is White Chauncey Billups - @SlavaP