It's not rare for a show at First Avenue to sell out, but every so often an at-capacity show will buzz with so much energy and excitement that it's as if the entire venue is busting with hometown pride. Such was the case at the all ages P.O.S. show Saturday night, which was packed with fans both new and old to celebrate the release of the Doomtree rapper and Rhymesayers artist's latest album, Never Better.
P.O.S. started off his set by wielding an electric guitar, which drove the crowd into a flurry of mild hysteria. Everyone on the floor shot their hands in the air and kept them there for the majority of the set. At one point, as if in a moment of unspoken agreement, the entire pit pressed forward in unison and reached their hands out toward P.O.S., who graciously leaned down into the crowd and gave high fives to anyone within his reach.
The set started out with several cuts off his new album, including one of the first "singles" off Never Better, "Goodbye," before transitioning into some of his older material. P.O.S. was joined on stage by DJ Plain Ole Bill, with whom he had just been on tour for three weeks, and P.O.S. often bounced banter off the DJ between songs.
"How many people here have never been to a P.O.S. show?" he asked midway through the set, and a surprising number of hands sprouted up from the middle of the pit. "I don't care what anybody says," he continued, grinning. "If you are in this room, then you belong here."
In his writeup of P.O.S. for the print edition last weekend, Steve McPherson remarked at the childlike whimsy and abandon at the center of the rapper's newest CD. This same whimsy was on display in full force Saturday, as P.O.S. bounded across the stage, beamed at the audience, and rearranged his set list to accommodate each new impulse as it arose. Everything he did on stage emanated joy out into the audience, and his excitement about playing a hometown show for his friends and family was visible from anywhere in the giant room.
P.O.S. brought out Sims, Mike Mictlan and Lazerbeak to join him for the middle part of his set, but the most memorable parts of the evening came when he was playing solo, highlighting his newest tracks. "Purexed," "Optimist," and "Drumroll (We're All Thirsty)" all came to life especially well, and a large portion of the audience was singing along with every word, despite the fact that the album has only been out for a few weeks.