One of the common criticisms of contemporary male rappers is their live performances lack sizzle. The last prominent live performance to get called out was Gunna and Future performing “pushin P” on “Saturday Night Live.” The two Atlanta rappers swayed in place back-and-forth for a minute and 40 seconds. Music critic Anthony Fantano called it “one of the worst ‘SNL’ performances ever.”
On the Lil Nas X Long Live Montero” tour, a lack of effort is something fans won’t have to endure for a second. Through a myriad of wardrobe changes and choreographed routines, Lil Nas X didn’t leave a single fan dissatisfied in a set that lasted a little over an hour.
The 23-year-old music superstar’s latest show is broken down into three acts, à la the form of a play. Upon entry, fans are given program booklets like a play.
“Welcome to the ‘Long Live Montero’ tour,” the artist wrote in a hand-written letter at the front of the program. “So much has led up to this moment in your life where you somehow decided you want to see a 6’2″ homosexual perform on stage.”
The show is his first world tour and Sept. 27 was his first headlining show in his hometown of Atlanta at the Coca-Cola Roxy. It’s an intimate venue for one of American music’s hottest acts, but it’s split into two nights so many of his friends and family can get an opportunity to experience it.
Lil Nas X’s show provided a safe space for members of the LGBTQ+ community. The artist made various jokes about the common things members of the community hear. When he performed the unreleased highly-anticipated “Down Souf H–s” single featuring Saucy Santana, he brought a group of fans — mostly men — on stage for a twerking contest. The show’s program booklet featured an organization and upcoming event focused on protecting LGBTQ+ youth. The Trevor Project is the organization and Glaad’s Spirit Day on Oct. 20 is the event he spotlighted.
The budget for the live show appeared to be pretty substantial, as the set changes of the night included a bed, a horse, lasers that shot across the venue. For his encore performance, confetti that fell from the ceiling in the final moments of “Industry Baby” and continued to rain throughout the venue during his and his team’s curtain call. His team of eight Black male dancers had their moments to shine as well, like when Las Vegas’ Amari Smith bolted into backflips on stage.
Lil Nas’ stage presence has come a long way from his debut at an Atlanta Hawks’ game in March 2019. This performance showed he’s on track to soon be on par with Beyoncé, Doja Cat and Janet Jackson’s stage optics as opposed to the traditional male rapper who is on stage only accompanied by a DJ.