Lil Nas X at The Met | photo by Megan Matuzak for WXPN
Lil Nas X Delivers A Theatrical, Exuberant Three Act Show, Performs New Single At The Met Philadelphia
He put on a fast-paced, dynamic and vibrant performance of select tracks from Montero and a few hit singles with great dancing and custom-fitted Coach couture.
The curtain pulled back revealing Lil Nas X illuminated by a single spotlight. As the crowd at The Met cheered so ferociously it was arguably deafening, the set opened with “Panini” with a big grin on Lil Nas’ face. That grin got even bigger when his dancers strutted onto the stage and immediately began to eat it up.
Lil Was X’s performance was broken into three acts: Rebirth, Transformation, and Becoming.
“The Wizard of Nas” featured season 10 Drag Race fav Monique Heart, who introduced each act. Monique, projected onto the curtain as a nod to the film, speaks from another plane guiding the audience through Montero’s journey, sometimes speaking directly to him in a silky smooth delivery of captivating storytelling.
In totality, Montero is special and therefore the entities have a close interest in him. The audience at The Met Thursday night couldn’t agree more.
The first act was closed out with the tracks that put Lil Nas firmly on the map, country charts ringer “Old Town Road” and “Rodeo”. The tracks were layered like a Rainbow Swirl Bread sandwich, “Old Town Road” being both slices.The crowd on the floor was speckled with cowboy hats, and as the gold horse glided out they surely felt seen. Lil Nas gave his blessing.
Lil Was X was sneaky about sowing in classic late 90s/00s greatest hits, like “Pony”, “Get Your Freak On”, and, for some ungodly reason, “Pump It” by Black Eyed Peas. So the same goes for Millennials feeling seen too.
Act Two, Transformation, tapped into Marie Antionette vibes with era-appropriate luxury and a soft pink glow. After a Disney-like skit featuring the dancers outfit change and an onstage outfit change into a pink rhinestone Shakespearian jacket with matching pants, Lil Nas X performed “DON’T WANT IT” and later “THAT’S WHAT I WANT”, both off Montero.
The most surprising/best part of Act Two, hands down, was tight and sharp voguing and lip-syncing to Beyonce’s “Pure/Honey” off her latest album, RENAISSANCE.
Lil Nas X seamlessly flowed between full-out dancing to interacting with the crowd. From death drops to classical, graceful ballet to acrobatic flips, the dancers took the show to the next level in so many ways, including acting elements to songs and the scenes sprinkled throughout the performance.
“Montero, wake up…” Monique beckons as they fade out and the curtain opens again for Act Three. Red lights flooded the stage, a hellscape flashed onto the screen and horned, flaming eyes deity framed the cocoon the crowd had seen earlier. “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” began to play and Lil Nas X emerged from the cocoon. Unlike Spinal Tap, he did not get trapped inside.
If anyone ever wondered if a twerk-off could work at a show like this, they’d be wrong. Following “SCOOP” Lil Nas X asked who wanted to come up to shake their ass. Not sure at first if he was at all being serious, Lil Was X riled up the crowd again as security came on stage and people from the audience were handpicked by Lil Nas X or a gaggle of dancers.
One person towards the front had a small pride flag they waved wildly, Lil Nas X singled them out in Act Three, Becoming. He wanted to ask if he was doing a good job. The flag bearer’s approval was followed by another loud roar from the Philly crowd at The Met.
In pink rhinestone football pants and a pink shoulder pad top with a letterman’s jacket “M”, the dancers in complimentary sporty outfits, Lil Nas X performed “INDUSTRY BABY”. The performance did not feature THE locker room scene but did get an unexpected orchestral twist. Lil Nas and the dancers let loose from choreography as the song came to a close and butterfly confetti rained from the ceiling.
Lil Nas X returned for a one-track encore, a new single called “STAR WALKIN’” which didn’t drop until midnight, September 23rd. The crowd got to hear the soaring, astrological anthem live and before a lot of the world. He gleefully performed the track in a metallic silver jumpsuit with pink and blue lasers that together gave a very 80s TRON vibe.
There was also a t-shirt gun.
As the lights dimmed and Lil Nas X started to jog off stage, he turned back around to ask everyone to say long live Montero. Without hesitation, the entirety of everyone’s voices boomed “Long Live Montero!”
After back-to-back Detroit kick-off dates, bouncing around from NYC to Toronto to Boston, and two nights at Radio City Music Hall, Lil Nas X touched down at The Met Thursday night. LONG LIVE MONTERO is Lil Nas’ first tour of his career with Philadelphia coming in as show number eight on Thursday.He put on a fast-paced, dynamic and vibrant performance of select tracks from Montero and a few hit singles with great dancing and custom-fitted Coach couture.
The location — for such a popular, Grammy Award-winning performer that he is — seemed quite odd on paper (or a smartphone screen). Even there, sitting in the seat or in GA, it all felt fantastical, the palpable anticipation was bubbling up. It very much had that elevated feeling a theater show can give an audience member and homage to Playbill programs was a nice touch.
As the veiny, alien-like cocoon resting center stage was pulled back through the curtain the lid blew right off. No need to pinch yourself to check if you were dreaming. It all clicked.