Whether you like Kid Laroi’s music or not, he is inarguably one of the most important artists to have come out of Australia in the last decade, or maybe ever.
A proud Kamilaroi man – of which his stage name pays homage to – he is not only the first Australian hip hop artist to reach number one in the US charts but the first Indigenous one as well.
What he represents is a new wave of young POC artists coming into the Australian and international mainstream, an important switch between the days where indie rock bands dominated the public lexicon to a now more diverse landscape that champions the kids and artists who never saw the light of day.
Back in his hometown of Sydney for his first ever headline Australian show, fans outside the Qudos Bank Arena were buzzing. The trains were filled with young kids with mullet cuts, hoodies, and dyed hair. Energy drinks were everywhere and girls with butterfly clips wearing red flannel and multi-coloured Jordans were giggling at the prospect of meeting him in person.
On the street, people chanted Kid Laroi’s name on repeat.’ It was a good crowd, and though pockets of it were extremely young (16/17/18), there were also the OGs: the ones who had been around since his first hit track, “Blessings”, was released when he was just 13-years-old.
There were families there, too. Eight-year-olds dressed in Kid Laroi merch with matching haircuts. Two kids, the indigenous flag on their chests, sang along to every song.
Seventeen-year-old Lil Arts, Laroi’s brother from Sydney’s inner city Waterloo warmed up the punters before Kid Laroi charged on stage where he gave an ode to the Stolen Generation - It’s Sorry Day - and the crowd roared. At one point, Laroi pulled a fan on-stage to do a shoey, flinging the guy's shoe away when he was done, “Can we get you a free shoe…we didn’t think about that did we?” he says as the abyss of the crowd sucks it up.
Throughout the rest of his set, every now and then between songs, Kid Laroi will chant, “I’m so happy to be back home.”
“This feels like home to me.”
At such a special show, VICE loitered the venue, taking photos on a shitty little IPhone (it adds to the aesthetic, doesn’t it?...DOESN’T IT?”), and got to know more about the hometown fans of Kid Laroi.
From left to right - Josh, Jade, Cobyn, Hollie, Naliedha, Cobyn (18/19)
I saw them on the train, Naliedha was drinking a huge can of Monster, which seemed wholesome.
VICE: Hey, So when did you guys hear of Kid Laroi?
(Naliedha and Jade laugh)
Naliedha: I know his cousins.
Jade: We both dated his cousin.
Oh God, So you have a personal connection?
Naliedha: Yeah, we all used to hang out at Waterloo Skatepark while he was there.
Are you guys going backstage, then?
Jade and Naliedha (together): Noooooo
Naliedha: He doesn’t know me anymore
Damn, he’s too big now
Jade: He got famous
Lachlan, Alex and Jackson (18)
Lachlan’s cut is one I’d seen all night, it seemed every 18-year-old in attendance had shaved sides with a bit of mullet. Like any 18-year-old bombarded with questions it was hard getting much out of these guys.
Why are you guys fans of Kid Laroi?
Jackson: Just like the music
Alex: I haven’t been to a concert in years, so I thought why not?
Have you been fans for a while?
Alex: Started listening to him three years ago
Jackson: Yeah same.
Why do you like his music?
Lachlan: Aussie culture.
Kapulet, and Spenny from ONEFOUR a.k.a Australian Rap Kings
Speaking of Aussie Culture:
I saw a white limo pull up, some security jump out, and a group of important looking guys spill out onto the street. My eyes lit up - and not one to waste an opportunity - I bee-lined over.
VICE: Hey, do you mind if I take a photo of you guys for VICE?
Yeah sure, go for it.
[Takes nervous/ blurry photo]
Manager(?): Okay, we gotta go.
They disappear into the night as I think: ‘Fucking hell, I just paparrazied rap royalty.’
Kevin, Constantine-Antonio, Stephanie (ages undisclosed)
These guys looked really good together, and I’m always a big fan when someone brings their mum to a show.
So when did you hear of Kid Laroi?
Stephanie: We started listening in about 2019.
Constantine-Antonio: Back when he did the show with the No Jumper X Street X. It was sick.
Stephanie: Oh, yeah
Constantine-Antonio: For sure.
Constantine-Antonio: The storytelling. As an artist myself it’s inspiring that he comes from similar areas to where we grew up.
Stephanie: As the mum of an artist, looking at emerging artists and talent from Australia, it’s really exciting.
That was cute. Real cute.
Holly (18) and Thraise (19)
How long have you been Kid Laroi fans?
Thraise: Maybe two years, ever since he was underdog for Juice WRLD. As soon as that.
What do you wanna see tonight?
Thraise: In terms of songs “My City”, ONEFOUR and Laroi
Holly: I wanna see “FAIR”, I really like that song and “Maybe”.
I Literally just saw ONEFOUR [proceeds to show them photo].
Thraise: No shit! So maybe they’ll get on stage.
[Spoiler: they didn’t]
Lauren, Casey and Taylor (18/19)
Hey Ladies, How long have you been listening to Kid Laroi?
Casey: Like two years
Taylor: Yeah, since he got big.
What are you most excited for?
Lauren: The vibe
Taylor: Yeah, the vibe.
Casey: Definitely the vibe. I think everyone has a really good vibe that listens to Kid Laroi.
Vega and Mauri
When did you start listening to Laroi?
Vega: “Blessings”, so like 2016/2017
Mauri: Yeah when he dropped “Blessings”
His first big track then, you’re the OG’s. What is it about him that you like?
Mauri: He really did just put Australia on the map. He came from Waterloo and went straight to the top. From out here, the West, you don’t really see too many people–
Vega: –Yeah, not a lot of people make it like that.
Mauri: So you gotta respect that.
Read more from VICE Australia.