At His Sydney Show, The Kid LAROI Staked His Claim For Superstardom

Small hiccups aside, The Kid LAROI's homecoming was a triumph.

the kid laroi

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It has to be them, doesn’t it?

No names have been given in advance for who will be opening the first night of The Kid LAROI’s first-ever Australian tour — just Support Act 1 and Support Act 2, we’re told. Speculation immediately ramps up across social media, and one name keeps creeping up. One that LAROI has collaborated with in the past, is known to make unannounced appearances and recently had a member return to free society. If it’s them, it’ll be one for the ages. One…for… hey, wait a minute…

Some 20 minutes after the show was meant to begin, a DJ emerges from the shadows and… okay, it’s not them. TJ Mizell, LAROI’s DJ, is here to play a series of late 2010s and early 2020s pop-rap hits — several of which we’ve already heard on the pre-show playlist. This means, essentially, the house music has been killed so that the audience can listen to slightly louder house music with somehow even poorer transitions.

A quick Google indicates that Mizell is the son of Run DMC’s late turntablist Jam Master Jay, and it’s not so much that the apple has fallen far from the tree — it’s that Mizell is seemingly a different fruit entirely. It’s an underwhelming start, to say the least, and dropping tracks from the likes of Travis Scott and XXXtentacion is lacking in both awareness and taste.

But hey, this is just Support Act 1. There’s still Support Act 2, right? This turns out to not be them, either — in fact, ONEFOUR won’t emerge tonight at all, rather they’ll pop up on stage at LAROI’s second show. But it doesn’t matter, as second support Lilarts is a 17-year-old rapper from Waterloo — which means he grew up in the same neighbourhood as LAROI and additionally means that LAROI has made a point of plucking a kid with a similar background to him out of obscurity and onto an arena stage.

The amount of confidence exuded from this young man in the ensuing three-song set is absolutely astounding — imagine yourself at the same age being placed in front of 16,000 people who have no idea who you are. Terrifying, surely — and yet, Lilarts barely breaks a sweat. Do the songs themselves need work? Of course, but that’s something that can now be afforded thanks to this massive boost to a young artist’s career. A tip of the cap where it’s due.

This, along with a moving welcome to Country are timely reminders of how LAROI is still making a point of staying true to his roots. He may be a red carpet celebrity making international smash hits now, but lest we forget it all started in the south of Sydney with little more than a teenage pipe dream.

Lest we forget it all started in the south of Sydney with little more than a teenage pipe dream.

With the venue now packed, and the lights bringing up the young man of the hour at the top of a bright white staircase, we’re now bearing witness to that dream fully realised. More than once, the Kid born Charlton Howard incredulously remarks at the scale of the venue, and just how passionate those in attendance are about his earnest emo-trap songs — from early cuts like ‘DIVA’ and ‘PIKACHU’ through to breakthrough singles ‘SO DONE’ and Juice WRLD collaboration ‘GO’, right up to recent single ‘Thousand Miles’.

Such are their resonance, LAROI can point his microphone out to the audience during any point of any song and enlist a makeshift choir to recite his words back to him. What takes some artists a decade-plus to achieve, LAROI is doing so after only a couple of years. Even being in the same ROOM as him feels zeitgeisty.

Photo Credit: BCS Imaging

At one point, LAROI ventures down into the crowd to sing from the T-barrier. A shrill sound pierces through the PA, which at first suggests a feedback issue. After a moment, however, it’s revealed as positive feedback — the girls in the front are in an absolute Beatlemania pandemonium from being in such close proximity to their idol. Just to give an indication of what we’re dealing with here: The last time girls were this loud in this room, Harry Styles was standing there.

LAROI isn’t quite yet the showman Harry is, however — charismatic as he may be. The rotating stairs are a nice touch to the arena staging, as are the moody lighting sequences, but a lack of live band leaves the show lacking a certain spontaneity and often gives you very little to work with visually. The interstitial videos are certainly arresting and intriguing, playing out like a horror film in which a father and son kidnap and murder LAROI. Once they’re gone and the show resumes, however, you’re left wishing it would factor into the rest of the show somehow — or, as LAROI would put it, you wish it was given the same energy.

Almost a year on from its release, ‘STAY’ is still every bit as electric and urgent as the first time around.

The show also gets derailed about three-quarters when LAROI calls a fan onstage to do a shoey with him. A big cheer goes up, naturally, but with the exception of ‘Hey Baby’ sing-alongs no gig trend has needed to die a quicker death. Firstly, it’s 2022. Secondly, it’s gross. And thirdly, LAROI gets caught up in the moment and hurls the poor kid’s shoe into the audience — meaning not only has this fan just had to drink lukewarm beer out of a sweaty shoe, he’s now only got one left after paying an exorbitant amount to be there in the first place. Unfortunate for all involved.

Any and all shortcomings are overlooked, however, once LAROI’s pop masterclass ‘STAY’ fills the arena. Almost a year on from its release, and it’s still every bit as electric and urgent as the first time around. Live, it’s a palpable energy. LAROI is bounding about from side to side, breathlessly packing in his words as the beat rattles the arena speakers. Friends climb on one another’s shoulders, the stalls all rise from their seats and the choir gives it some gusto for the home stretch. Not even the lack of Justin Bieber dulls the song’s shine for a second. For two and a half minutes, LAROI’s home city is the centre of the universe.

It’s moments like this that remind you what it’s really all about. Consider that most in the audience have not experienced an arena show like this in over two years — and some may have never experienced one before at all. Hell, statistically this is at least a few kids’ first-ever experience with live music. You imagine, like most things, this isn’t something The Kid LAROI takes for granted.

He knows the work isn’t over — tonight, we merely witness the next step of his onward and upward ascent. Tonight’s been good — really good, in fact, and certainly special to boot. Next time? Greatness awaits.

David James Young is a writer and podcaster. He Instagrams at @djywrites.

Photo Credit: BCS Imaging