It finally happened. After teasing their friendship online back in 2020 with a lever-action rifle and a viral Instagram post, Post Malone and Billy Strings performed together onstage. The “Circles” rapper joined the lightning-fast bluegrass picker at the Observatory in Santa Ana, California, for a rollicking cover of “Cocaine Blues,” the cautionary murder song made famous by Johnny Cash.
“Billy Strings is the best to ever fucking do it,” Post Malone said upon walking onstage with a draft beer and a lit cigarette — which he politely asked Strings’ permission to snub out on the stage. Malone, strumming an acoustic guitar, handled the vocals, while Strings and his ace band added intricate bluegrass flourishes, both of them smiling and buddying up all the way.
Posty relished the lyrics about “shooting his woman down,” but he chose to deliver them subtly, not with the usual aggro vibes of others who’ve covered the swaggering tune. When it came to the climactic finish — “I can’t forget the day I shot that bad bitch down” — he swallowed “bad bitch” instead of emphasizing it.
Strings, a bastion of contemporary bluegrass who’s won over fans of rock, jam and country with his marathon concerts and dexterity, will headline Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium for three nights in May. At last night’s show in Santa Ana, he played an eclectic mix of his own songs like “Dust in a Baggie” and “Wargasm” (his collab with the rapper RMR), along with Flatt & Scruggs and Bill Monroe covers.