Post Malone’s entrance and ensuing mission statement at last night’s Bud Light Dive Bar Tour was sweet and to the point: “My name is Austin Richard Post, and I’m here to play you some f***ing jams...and drink some Bud Light while we do it.” Armed with the charisma of someone who’s several drinks deep, Post was in his element straight out of the gate, his every chord and croon caked with a reverb that cut right through the dense NYC heatwave. He distributed occasional Bud Lights with the gusto of someone gunning for the North Pole’s big-bellied hotshot. His rhinestone cowboy boots, like twin disco balls dancing beneath the crystal blue strobe, were topped only by his matching sequined jeans, emblazoned with the skull and sword imagery that he rocks to no end. The triple-platinum beerbongs & bentleys perfectly encapsulates Post’s aesthetic: bedazzled space cowboy theatrics mixed with mullet-and-camo frat star shenanigans. 

Post Malone at Bud Light Dive Bar - Rich Fury/Getty Images - provided by Bud Light

Given the global superstar status that he’s garnered over the course of the past few years, it’s rather easy to lose sight of the fact that Post is just a 24-year-old who went from sleeping in his friend’s closet and scrounging for cigarette money to being a Grammy-nominated artist and one of the biggest acts that modern music has ever seen. Any semblance of normalcy went out the window the minute “White Iverson” exploded on SoundCloud in 2015 and subsequently had soccer moms everywhere reciting the “double OT” adlibs. With the exception of maybe Drake, no one is peddling melancholy pop-trap tropes as well as Post Malone.

This immense fame has stirred up plenty of criticism, some of it more warranted than others. As is the case when it comes to all white rappers, suspicion is the guiding critique. Words that range from “palatable” to “vulture” have been lobbed his way, and positive commentary on his music is frequently positioned in the form of backhanded compliments, something that Post has at times welcomed and other times derided. His music is clearly grounded in hip hop, but has the trappings of someone who’s prone to belting out the lyrics to Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer” or Megadeth’s “Peace Sells” at the top of his lungs. “Who’s to say that I can’t make a hip hop project and a guitar song at the same time?” he told Vice in a 2017 interview. “If you don’t like it, don’t f***ing listen to it.”

Post’s music is a manifestation of this crossroads, one that is defined by social media soundbites and first (and often last) impressions. Despite the continued fanfare surrounding his musical instincts and questionable face tattoos, Post has maintained a good-natured attitude about his career and is one of the most likeable characters in the industry, his unkempt hair and inked mug always accentuated by a grin. His genuine appreciation for the band members and those in attendance was evident throughout the night’s performance, an attractive character trait that doesn't feel forced and naturally goes hand-in-hand with his status as one of mainstream music’s preeminent “vibe” curators. “There’s no hating, it’s just love,” he proudly declared to the concert goers at The Cutting Room. 

The intimate dive bar setting served him well: though still aided by backing audio, Post’s voice sounded rejuvenated in a venue that was a far cry from the stadiums where the more nuanced bits of live performance have a tendency to get drowned out. It was an evening filled with a medley of his most popular tunes, including everything from his Into the Spider-Verse chart-topper “Sunflower” to the massively viral “I Fall Apart.” He whipped out the six-string for “Feeling Whitney” and even handled the guitar solo for “Santeria” with Eric Wilson and Rome Ramirez of Sublime with Rome providing backing instrumentation. Post was also joined by his mom, who sang along while pressed up against the rail bordering the stage, and none other than Fat Joe, who performed “All the Way Up,” “Lean Back,” and “Make It Rain” before regaling the night’s sponsor and the rambunctious crowd with a healthy chug from one of the many blue cans in arms reach. Smash record “White Iverson,” the self-proclaimed “only good song” that Post’s ever made and the track that quite literally launched his career overnight, remains a surefire crowd pleaser. He shutdown the set with “Congratulations,” prefaced per usual as an ode to the naysayers now trying to ride his coattails, though not before sharing the good tidings that many had hoped for: his third studio album is set to come out this September. With the news still marinating, Post playfully tried out a hat thrown on stage, stuck around long enough to entertain those who had pushed to the front for pics and autographs, and then parted the sea of spectators to make his way back out to the tour bus. 

Fat Joe performs alongside Post at the Bud Light Dive Bar - Rich Fury/Getty Images - provided by Bud Light

The evening’s proceedings were capped by a closing monologue in which the general gist was “keep kicking ass, no one can stop you.” They were the same kind of remarks that have developed into a mantra of sorts for Post’s meteoric rise in the face of swirling controversy and commercial triumph. Indeed, it seems like there’s nothing that can derail the new age rockstar’s sustained success. His upcoming single “Circles,” which he performed for the first time last night, has all the makings of yet another hit and will inevitably find its way on to late summer playlists and radio countdowns. While it’s a different direction from the one teased on “Goodbyes,” it’s certainly not a sonic departure from much of the other material that the Bud Light golden child has put out to date. His insanely catchy sixteenth note rhythms, damn near inescapable in 2019, have come to define a growing catalogue that has listeners everywhere addicted. From a short-lived stint as a one-hit-wonder to now having secured the rare staying power reserved for only the brightest stars, Post is poised for many more Billboard chart escapades and sub two-second beerbong rips.