On-the-job injuries are never pretty. Just ask rising St. Louis rapper Smino, who fractured his foot while jumping off stage into a mosh pit at the second show of his debut headlining tour. But Smino pushed through the pain for the rest of the tour, pumping up the crowd at the Roxy Theatre on Thursday with his talent and charming personality.
Energy in the audience was high from the start, and the intimate space buzzed with anticipation for the night. The DJ did a great job maintaining the right vibe between acts, playing hits across a variety of music genres. Fans formed a cypher before the first opener appeared, and it was smiles all around as a man entered the circle and rapped Kendrick Lamar’s “FEAR.” when it came on through the speakers.
Unfortunately, the various openers weren’t able to pump up crowds during their performances. First was rapper Bari, whose unfamiliar verses failed to hold the spotlight as the crowd continued to trickle in. Jay2, the next performer, almost went unnoticed as he snuck on stage mid-song. He fared slightly better than Bari, doing his best to excite the crowd through call-and-response, but was still faced with blank stares for most of his set. Jean Deaux rounded out the disappointing opening lineup, finding limited success only when supported by catchy, danceable beats.
Soon after, Smino’s band began to set up, signaling to the crowd what was about to take place. The band members and singers started off with an unusually musical sound check, creating a groovy melody over some funky instrumentation until they were satisfied with their equipment. Once everything was in place, the man of the hour hobbled out on his crutches in a white Larry Csonka jersey and started the set with “blkswn,” igniting the crowd in the process.
The fractured foot undoubtedly hindered his performance, as he rarely moved from his position behind the center mic. Keeping the foot propped up on the monitor to ease the pressure, he found other ways to release his high energy, taking pleasure interacting with the crowd wherever possible. He jokingly fired insults at individual crowd members and complained about the subpar food he had found in the city.
Paying homage to the biggest name in hip-hop to come out of “The Lou,” Smino took a break from his own discography midway through the performance to play snippets of “Air Force Ones” and “E.I.” by Nelly. Those who knew were ecstatic to hear the throwbacks, rapping along and dancing while Smino beamed with pride for his hometown of St. Louis.
The highlight of the night may have been his performance of “Amphetamine,” a dreamy victory lap illuminated by flashlights and lighters. Meant to be the final song, the applause that followed summoned him back to the stage, raising a crutch in triumph before playing a jazzed-up rendition of “Father Son Holy Smoke.”
It was a night to remember for those who attended, and another win for Smino as he continues to gain nationwide recognition as a rising rap star. The Swanita Tour will come to a close soon, wrapping up on May 28 in none other than St. Louis.