Words/photo Wal Reid
It was total “Xanarchy”. Diego Leanos, known professionally as Lil Xan, his stage name derived from the prescription drug Xanax, was smoking hot last night at his New Zealand debut at Auckland’s Galatos.
Officially,the gig was to be held at The Studio but changed to the more intimate venue, but that didn’t matter to the packed crowd, who were synced with the talented artist from start to finish.
Hits like The Man and the infectious Wake Up with its contagious maxim, “I wake up / I throw up / I feel like I’m dead,” over low sub bass beats was eagerly consumed by the largely Gen Z crowd, while cohort Steven Cannon paced the stage supporting his mate who Lil Xan affectionately heaped praise on, saying, “If it wasn’t for Steven Cannon, I wouldn’t be Rapping”. Somehow, that rung true.
The twenty-one-year-old American rapper, one of today’s most influential proponents of Emo/Mumble Rap was at home on stage, with backpack and trademark beanie look, made comment saying “You are all family now”, even referencing “living here” an accolade due to the chilled nature of the people and exploring the rugged Auckland terrain ( He visited Karekare waterfalls in West Auckland on his Instagram account).
The heavily tattooed rapper has “Zzz” tattooed under one eye, “Candy” under the other, and “Xanarchy” above one eyebrow, showing off his two latest ‘skin art’ additions to the more than curious crowd, who intermittently held up their arms in an “X” formation, he affirmed, cajoled the audience with banter, even paying homage to recently deceased rapper XXXTentacion.
Compadre Steven Cannon was also on form, his relaxed Rap lilt and quick fire delivery hyping up the crowd as he asked a female in the audience, why “She was on the speaker?”. The set list had most of his hits, Been Bout It, his anthem Xanarchy and the sublime Slingshot that sent the crowd into a mosh pit frenzy. Best known for his breakout hit, platinum certified “Betrayed”, and his hit with DJ Diplo which peaked at no. 64 on the Billboard Hot 100, the pair continued to entertain and sing their way through the energetic set.
I enjoyed the set more than I thought I would, singing along to Lil Xan’s music was never on my agenda, but damn it, if they aren’t catchy lil beasties. I defy anyone to go to his concert and not do the same. I draw the line at face tatts, but definitely would go see him again, this time in the mosh pit, closer to the action.