Nothing — not even pre-show vomit — was going to stop Lil Nas X from putting on a phenomenal performance.
On Wednesday, Lil Nas X took the stage for the second of two sold-out shows at Los Angeles’ YouTube Theater as part of his Long Live Montero Tour. In L.A., the musician — and his army of flawless dancers — shined through a powerful set full of storytelling, sparkling outfits, and impressive choreography, plus a cameo from special guest Saucy Santana.
Upon entering the venue, fans were handed playbills that outlined the show’s set list and foreshadowed the colorful visuals Nas would be using. The pamphlets and the gold accents around the stage were the first examples of how Lil Nas’ performance was more than a concert: This was a production, honey.
The audience packed the venue and waited patiently when suddenly Nas’ voice piped in: “Can y’all hear me? I just vomited so give me five minutes. It’s not a joke,” he told the crowd, which included Queer Eye‘s Karamo Brown, producer Benny Blanco, and Will Ferrell. “Give me a second.”
Ten minutes later, as the clock neared 10 p.m., the room darkened and the show began with the first of three acts: Revival.
A projection over a curtain told the audience that the “greatest thing a human can do is create,” before Nas — dressed in a golden crop top and matching pants — emerged on stage in front of a backdrop showing a colorful galaxy for his opening number, “Panini.”
“When I say I vomited, I wasn’t joking,” Nas said after the song, pointing to an emergency puke cup he kept near him. (He, thankfully, never had to use it.) “I already know this crowd is better than yesterday.”
After the energetic start, he slowed things down for “Sun Goes Down,” which features lyrics such as, “I had friends but they were picking on me.” The backdrop changed to the image of a castle as he sang, and fans brought out their camera lights for one of the most emotional moments of the night.
What followed was a transition that depicted his rapid rise into fame. The visuals captured how Nas skyrocketed from a kid with a stan account (@NasMaraj) to the cowboy-hat-wearing viral star of “Old Town Road.” The end of the act, with Magic Mike-style choreo prior to “Rodeo,” seemed to symbolize that everything that came with his viral song was now part of his past.
What brought him to this stage is worth celebrating, but it’s no longer who he is.
Then came Act Two: Transformation, which, as a whole, served as a celebration of the unapologetic Black queer culture that Nas represents.
After opening with “Don’t Want It,” Nas and his dancers paid tribute to the ballroom scene, incorporating a vogue-filled dance break to “Pure/Honey” from Beyoncé’s Renaissance. The pause felt as a fitting homage to the queer people that came before him, while making clear that Nas is positioned in the present and future of the genre and culture.
The unapologetic queer nature of Nas — who donned colorful crop tops showing off his crisp washboard abs throughout the show — rubbed off on the confident crowd, which included DJ Rotten Robbie, who rocked a Montero-inspired robe, glitter in his white Santa Claus-esque beard, and a cowboy hat.
“He’s just a pioneer. And he’s fucking amazing,” he told Rolling Stone as he handed fans mini disco balls.
Act Three was titled Revival, and captured Nas X in his prime: his present. An onscreen narrator reminded the audience that we often “hide parts of ourselves we don’t want to see,” before Lil Nas took the stage for “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” a track he named after himself.
The moment — aided by an interpolation of Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On” — served as one of the highlights of the show as he performed in front of the hell-looking visuals from his viral music video.
Hours before his show in L.A. on Wednesday, Nas joked on Twitter, “i will be cumming on 3 lucky fans for my cum-on-a-fan contest.” On night two, he reminded the audience — while wearing two flowing butterfly wings in front of a heaven-like backdrop — that those tweets “were still valid.” Though there was no cum contest, the climax of night two came moments later, when he welcomed rapper Saucy Santana for a surprise performance of their yet-to-be-released collaboration “Down Souf Hoes.”
Sporting a hot pink corset, skirt, and his signature conductor hat, Santana took the stage and threw some ass on Nas — a moment of celebration for the two queer kings. “Y’all ready to shake some ass?” Santana said before the two twerked for the audience.
Back in June, Nas told Rolling Stone that being a queer, Black man in this industry “has been a real, steep, steep hill of just trying to gain that confidence to keep pushing,” but that “we always make it to that next round.” His show was proof of that.
The night fittingly ended with “Industry Baby” and an unexpected, laser-flecked encore, “Star Walkin’,” his most recent single. Amid a standing ovation, Nas walked offstage. As he left, a few words flashed on the screen behind him: “The end of the beginning.” His queer-as-hell show is proof that Lil Nas X has already transformed into a complete force, and inarguably the greatest queer artist of 2022.