On Friday night (May 18), SAINt JHN sold out The Roxy theatre, the historic West Hollywood venue on Sunset Strip. After a busy year that has seen the Brooklyn artist release his debut album, Collection 1, and open for Post Malone in front of a 16,000-plus crowd in April, the rapper/songwriter set off on his own 19-stop 'Not A Cult Tour' to bring the project to life.
When asked how it felt to perform at a venue like The Roxy with such a storied past, SAINt JHN was humbled: "It's indescribable. I mean, you really can't put it into words. Standing on that stage, you just have to hope that you don't disappoint the legacy that you've set out to create. I'm where I'm supposed to be. Let's just hope I end up where I'm supposed to go."
After an electric DJ set by Angel + Dren, SAINt JHN emerged to the rumbling bassline of "Lust," sporting a custom, paisley silk buttondown, matching bottoms, and his signature Saint Laurent boots. Known for his outwardly animated style as much as his music, the rapper worked closely with a factory to design a series of 19 personalized outfits to wear on each stop of the tour, showcasing his love of silk and fine fabrics.
As the night went, SAINt JHN cycled through a handful of old and new records, contrasting his upbeat singles like "Albino Blue" with more introspective records like "God Bless The Internet." "I wrote this record about something I shouldn't have done with someone I shouldn't have done it with, and 15 minutes after recording it, my girl walked into the studio," he described as the lights dimmed in preparation for the song. "I had to tell her, 'baby, this isn't about you, it's art.' Those aren't even my melodies," SAINt JHN recounted, garnering laughs from the audience.
At a time where Auto-Tune has become a staple in mainstream music, the Guyanese artist's a capellas were perhaps the most charming feature of the whole show. Dropping the back-tracks during records like "Brilliant Bitch," "Selfish" and "Surf Club," SAINt JHN showcased his raw vocal skill, as the crowd joined him in choral unison.
During a performance of arguably his most successful record to date, the catchy "Heard You Got Too Litt Last Night," SAINt JHN jumped into the crowd, mounting the divider between the pit and the VIP area and towering over the audience with fellow artist Tyla Yaweh. He would then return to the stage to perform "3 Below," his hard-hitting, future-bass influenced single with a raging, distorted sub-bass line and rattling percussion. "Turn the lights up. I want to see every face in here," he instructed as the music began to play. The somewhat-civil crowd then devolved into a full-on mosh pit, as a group of sweaty bodies threw themselves into each other at the forefront of the stage.
We chatted with SAINt JHN briefly after the show to ask if he's been working on new music and what's coming up next: "I'm right here. I'm on the pulse of everything that's happening in this moment."
As far as what he's looking forward to the most about the European leg of the tour, his answer was simple: "I sold out London in December before I even put out the album, so I'm excited to see that growth and the faces that have been supporting me from a distance there and all over Europe. And of course, I gotta see my favorite porn star while I'm there, too."