Metro City was afloat with well-wishers on Sunday night as Atlanta-rapper and self-proclaimed “King of the Teens”, Lil Yachty rounded out his Australian tour and prepared to play Auckland.
Let’s be honest; Perth’s not a city famous for its roaring Sunday nightlife. But when a grammy-nominated, trend-breaking cultural icon from Atlanta adds your city to his list of Splendour sideshows you’d expect that to change. The Soundcloud-started American artist has been a controversial figure in hip-hop since his debut, but has always resonated with a young loyal base.
A large section of this demographic were on display last Sunday night, with groups of late teens vibrating with excitement in the queue for Metro City. Fashion favoured bright colours and rumpled cargo shorts which quickly slowed down the mandatory pat-downs at the door, the extra security vigilant.
The dance floor was slow to fill as attendees stand in groups and chatter excitedly, somehow winning out against the club music pulsing at 9pm. For a time, the atmosphere felt more like an exhibition than a music performance, a crowd waiting for something they need to see.
Lil Yachty’s support, a charismatic DJ named Style Ali, soon emerged and began to fill the dance floor. Hip-hop’s biggest hits fly from his turn-table until, finally, a chant is started.
“I say LIL, you say WHAT?”
The crowd finally got a taste as Yachty walked across the stage, hoodie up, and the show started. Wanna Be Us from the Lil Boat EP starts the set with Yachty and crew providing most of the vocals. Next came up ISPY, another summer hit. A few songs later and Yachty stopped the show, dropping into a squat before the crowd. “I’m going to need yah’ll to turn the excitement up a bit,” he murmured to the crowd. “I didn’t come all this way for nothing!”
Standing again he attempts to inject some more excitement into the crowd, as his onstage cohorts hurl bottle-loads of water at the crowd; seemingly determined that no attendee should leave a boat show dry. For all the hydrotechnics and cries for hype, the only one in the club that could be mistaken for bored is Lil Yachty himself. Possibly from playing Melbourne the night before or some residual jet lag, but he gives the impression of a performer just dragging themselves through. The vocals are fairly flat even on simple hooks like Peek A Boo, and any movement is largely constricted to pacing.
Nevertheless the crowd’s energy is undiminished as they shout and sway to more familiar beats, ranging across Yachty’s past releases and debut album.
Lil Yachty burns through his roughly 40 minute set, ending on an extended 1Night and saying his thanks to the crowd before exiting the stage. After a minute of confusion we accept that it’s over and deal with the newly lit club lights. The crowd are still smiles as I watch another brightly-clad girl go over her camera roll- they got what they came for.
Lil Yachty’s debut album ‘Teenage Emotions’ is available for purchase and play on all major music streaming services.