Live Life Fast Always leave them wanting more. That’s what Roddy Ricch did Wednesday night (November 11) at the finale of his and Post Malone’s Twelve Carat Toothache Tour at the Crypto.com arena (formerly and always Staples Center to the locals) in Los Angeles. His impressive set illustrated the effectiveness of simplicity, highlighted the breadth of his talents, and proved that he’s more than ready to be headlining arenas on his own.
The Compton rapper’s set was so ruthlessly efficient in touching on his biggest hits that it seemed the hour of material he did perform was not enough. Although he hit the mainstays – “The Box,” “Die Young,” “Ballin’,” and “Racks In The Middle” – it felt like he could have done at least 30 more minutes before the audience was satisfied. Indeed, with a brand-new project releasing just days later, it would have been an opportune moment to preview a few new songs.
Even without those, there were albums worth of material he didn’t perform, which is in itself more than enough reason to extend his set, even if he did show up late, joking that he drove “110 [mph] on the 110 [freeway]” to make it. Tapping his two albums, Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial and Live Life Fast, as well as both Feed Tha Streets mixtapes (not to mention his slew of features), he could easily pull together a set every bit as dynamic as the one he did.
There’s something to be said for the sort of curation he did for this set, though. His instincts, honed through his early study under the mentorship of industry vets like Meek Mill and Nipsey Hussle, serve him well on stage – not a movement is wasted, and he engages with the crowd like a champ. He also knows how and when to turn up and blow out the restrained production to accentuate what he’s doing rather than distract from it.
While it’s just him and the microphone for the most part, when he does add to the staging, it’s an impressive embellishment, not a meaningless accouterment. When he performed “Late At Night” as a gentle piano ballad, he played the piano (a magnificent baby grand that seemed to simply materialize from nowhere on the stage) himself. Likewise, a prodigious choir joined him for the gospel-tinged “War Baby,” while “Die Young” was accompanied by a video tribute to hip-hop’s fallen heroes – including the most recent addition to those rolls, Takeoff.
While watching Roddy, I was reminded of the other concerts I’ve seen at Staples (again, now and forever) in the past year, particularly the openers for Tyler The Creator, and Kendrick Lamar’s headlining set. I remembered being somewhat disappointed with the stripped-down staging for performers like Vince Staples and Baby Keem, who didn’t make as much use of the arena space as I might have hoped (it worked for Staples, who at least gave a compelling and visible performance from a mid-floor platform that lit up).
K. Dot’s arena show was especially underwhelming because of all the unnecessary props and messy narrative building that felt more confusing than awe-inspiring. Roddy, on the other hand, weaponized those expectations as well as utilizing the space, punching things up just when I started to get bored with his relatively low-key performance style. He didn’t play up the props too much, but the accessories grew from the music itself which made them feel necessary and of piece with everything else.
I will say that the surprise guests felt… weird. YG popped out to perform a verse from his song “Big Bank,” and Wiz Khalifa showed up to rap a bit of “Young, Wild, And Free,” but these appearances felt only loosely connected to Roddy himself (like Roddy, YG hails from Compton, but Wiz is merely a good industry friend). Neither has music with him – yet – so there was nothing to tie them into what was already happening onstage. But if that’s my only quibble, it’s a minor one and it was fun to see the effect Wiz had on the very bro-y, millennial crowd anyway.
None of this focus on Roddy is to say that Post Malone is a slouch, though. Everything from set design to lighting, with flying circular rigs that nodded to his admitted fascination with UFOs, accentuated his own relatively straightforward approach. His voice sounds great live, he’s a magnanimous, grateful, charming presence on stage, and his dance moves are genuinely hilarious (I had no idea he was so zesty). Post’s show felt like a hangout with a friend, and by the time I left, I definitely wanted to continue hanging out.
But Roddy I wanted to watch. By the time he strolled off the stage – after playing “Ballin’” rather than “The Box,” which seems an odd choice, but I get it if he’s tired of that one after all this time – I wanted nothing more than for him to come back and do an encore. After all, there were still so many songs of his left to perform (he did return to the stage to perform “Cooped Up” with Post) and he’s proven that it’s worth the extra time.
Roddy Ricch is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.