Lil Xan‘s debut album, Total Xanarchy, has only just hit shelves (that’s happening today, Friday, April 6), but the rapper has already completed his first headlining tour. The Total Xanarchy Tour hit cities across North America from January through the end of March, and this past Saturday, March 31, it came to a close at Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey.
When doors were set to open, the line of fans stretched all the way around the venue’s parking lot. The crowd was young – most in their mid-teens, too young to have a driver’s license and yet largely unaccompanied by parents, leaving those over the drinking age feeling that much older in comparison (the bar area was almost entirely empty).
Presented by local concert promoter Concert Crave, the show featured six local and regional openers from around New Jersey and New York. Six openers may seem like a lot, but only two played for thirty minutes each, while the others were on stage for ten minutes or less. Jersey Jon (who performed only covers), Asteroid (a Jersey City resident who began his set by instructing the crowd to “open that pit up”), $port (a rapper who proclaimed, “I don’t know what the track list is, I just know I have to go with the flow”), Diverse Character, LYF (a duo who explained “we spell it differently because we live it differently – living young forever”), and TEA N DIDDY (who ramped up the crowd by screaming, “If you don’t have no STDs, make some noise!”) played back-to-back sets that almost blended in to one another.
The world of “SoundCloud Rap” (the easy genre classification for artists like Xan) is an interesting one: it’s not alternative in the same way that punk is, but it’s certainly an alternative to the world of mainstream music. It’d be easy to classify “Soundcloud Rap” as a passing fad (as with most genres that appeal to the younger set), but Lil Xan’s lyrics about drug abuse and addiction are entirely genuine. Before he was known to the world as Lil Xan, Diego Leanos was a photographer, taking pictures of rappers, so it comes as no surprise that there were plenty of photographers in attendance documenting the night.
It felt fitting that Lil Xan was joined on the Total Xanarchy Tour by Steven Cannon, as the two have been longtime collaborators. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Cannon now lives in Los Angeles; his on-stage persona is a combination of Midwest humbleness and West Coast easygoing freedom. Case in point: Cannon made it his goal to “make it a total water park,” and regularly sprayed water everywhere.
Rather than enter to silence, before Lil Xan appeared on stage, a cartoon video clip filled the screen behind him. He played plenty of songs, though the set itself felt short given the number of tracks played (perhaps unsurprising, as most of his songs are barely cross the three-minute mark).
Though Xan was the only one making music, he wasn’t alone on stage. He was joined by a DJ, as well as various photographers and videographers, and a large group of friends, whose “job” seemed to be helping to hype everyone else up. Cannon also joined for several songs, including “Tick Tock” (a Total Xanarchy album cut that features 2 Chainz) and their recent collaboration, “The Man.”
After performing “Color Blind” (his recent track with Diplo), Xan proclaimed, “That’s the best fanbase in the world, Xanarchy.” But Xanarchy is more than a fanbase, it’s a subculture and community of its own. In addition to making requests for certain colors of lights (first red, then blue, then green), Xan regularly interacts with his fans, leaning forward across the barricade to grab their hands.
While rap shows might not be known for moshing, this was no problem to Lil Xan, who told the crowd, “We gotta do a mosh pit type thing!”, thanking them for being “the best crowd this whole tour” before going into this breakout single, “Betrayed.” The resulting mosh pit may have looked different from the one you might see at Warped Tour, but the spirit was the same: everyone was there to have fun and get out their energy to songs they relate to.
It’s been just two years in the making, and the world of Xanarchy still feels new. Per a recent Tweet, Total Xanarchy will be the last project Leanos releases under the name Lil Xan, though he’s already at work on his second album. “Lil Xan” may not be here for the long term, but Xanarchy – the music Diego Leanos creates and the community of fans inspired by it – sure is.