Some of the $50 T-shirts on sale at Xcel Energy Center on Sunday night read "Post Malone likes me," and that slogan turned out be the mantra of the concert.
The tattoo-faced pop singer/rapper of "Circles" and "Rockstar" fame spent a good portion of his 95-minute St. Paul performance telling — or showing — the sold-out crowd how happy he was to see them. His friendliness seemed 100% genuine, too, given this was only the second date on his first post-lockdown tour.
"I can't tell you how [bleeping] good it is after 2½ years to come out and just [bleeping] rock this place," the 27-year-old Texan said upon greeting the 14,000-plus fans.
Sunday's concert had a lot of the same party-hearty, carefree vibes as Posty's prior trip to Xcel Center in 2019, when he packed the arena two nights in a row. He talked often to the crowd and drank a lot, chugging beer from a red plastic Solo cup between songs more often than even Toby Keith does (whose hits include "Red Solo Cup").
In keeping with his more somber, troubled new album, though, some parts of the concert veered sharply toward serious and downcast themes. In these cases, it felt like Posty was being the kind of friend who pulls you from the party into a dark corner to open up and tell you everything's going to be all right.
This therapeutic theme was prevalent from the start in the opening song "Reputation," a deeply bellowed gut-wrencher that also kicks off his personal new album, "Twelve Carat Toothache."
"Can't be anyone else / So don't let me go, save yourself," he sang as he dramatically clutched a microphone stand and stood still on the main stage at the show's start.
Soon, though, Posty was strutting and bouncing all over the place to happier tunes, including a new one literally called "I Like You (A Happier Song)." He moved around via three long runways that ran the length of the arena floor, with hundreds of fans happily sandwiched between them; a pretty nifty stage setup, actually.
Sunday's set list pulled as heavily from Post's rowdy breakthrough 2018 album, "Beerbongs & Bentleys," as it did the new record. There was little doubt which of those fans wanted to hear more of. The megahits "Better Now" and "Psycho" prompted crazed responses early in the show, as did "Rockstar" and even the deeper cut "Over Now" near the end.
Sprinkled throughout the show, though, were the new songs in which the real-life Austin Richard Post confessed that he's been having a rough time with life. "Love/Hate Letter to Alcohol" spoke plainly about his woes. The darkest, heaviest new tune was "Euthanasia," which he delivered from his knees on a small circular stage at the far end of the arena.
"If you ever feel heartbroken and by yourself, you're not," he told the crowd. "There are people out there who love you more than you know."
As much as he showed personal and musical growth, Posty did not really grow a whole lot as a live performer since the last time around.
Sunday's performance once again relied entirely on backing tracks in lieu of a band, including ample prerecorded vocal parts. Had opening act Roddy Ricch not shown up late in the show to join in on their collaborative hit "Cooped Up," the show would've been nothing but Posty singing along to Posty — who's a powerful vocalist in concert but otherwise doesn't have much of a commanding stage presence.
In his Michael Gallup-branded Dallas Cowboys football jersey and that ever-present Solo cup, he looked like a guy who came straight from his uncle's tailgating party to be there. Even his dance moves seemed a bit half-hearted. He was casual enough about his stage presence to light up a cigarette midsong in "Candy Paint," with the ample backing vocals allowing him plenty of time to puff away.
Of course, Posty's everyman personality is part of why fans like him. They showed some serious love when he got to a three-song segment on acoustic guitar, which included "Stay" and "Circles."
They went ga-ga again in the finale, "Congratulations," which he delivered bare-chested after throwing his jersey into the crowd. He then hung around onstage for more five minutes after the music ended to sign autographs, shake hands and take selfies with fans.
Seems like a true friend.