Swedish artist Yung Lean appeared at Franklin Music Hall in Philadelphia, PA on Dec. 6, 2022 as part of his Stardust Tour. Named after Lean’s “Stardust” mixtape released on April 8, 2022, this tour contained nine Europe shows, two Canada shows and six United States shows along with two added stops in Australia in January 2023.
Since his debut in 2013 with the project “Unknown Death 2002,” Lean has been acknowledged as an influential figure in hip hop, specifically the subgenre “Cloud rap.” Like the name implies, this music has hazy, light characteristics while also containing elements of trap beats and electronic hip hop instrumentals.
In the leadup to Lean’s performance, operatic music similar to the famous Halo theme had played throughout the venue, an uncommon twist from the usual hip hop hits you hear in between acts at a rap concert. It was obvious that Lean wanted his shows to be unique in comparison with other concerts that his fans may see.
At 8:58 p.m., the music stopped, the lights went down and a dramatic narration that spoke of “the rise and fall of heroes” began. Four minutes later, Lean burst on to the stage to perform “My Agenda” off of his 2020 album “Starz.” His attire was a large, wizard-esque cloak that turned him into a shadowy figure on stage. The lights were pulsing near the stage floor which made it difficult to make out his appearance from afar. Behind him was an eerie projected image of a house.
Despite the tour being promotion for Lean’s most recent project “Stardust,” his setlist did not contain a single track from the mixtape. Considering his extensive catalog, Lean may have thought that his fans would rather experience the older “classic” songs instead of the newest material, which did experiment with slightly more pop-leaning sounds in songs like “Lips” and “Bliss” with FKA twigs. In the merch area, exclusive physical copies of “Stardust” were sold along with clothing featuring the era’s artwork. Both CD and vinyl copies are hard to find online, and could sell for far above the price on the tour.
Lean would go on to perform more songs from “Starz” such as “Boylife in EU,” “Pikachu” and “Put Me in a Spell.” He performed tracks such as “bender++girlfriend” and “Smirnoff Ice” released in 2018 and 2019. Near the beginning of the show Lean performed a cover of “Diamonds” by Thaiboy Digital, who is a frequent collaborator with Lean along with Drain Gang artists.
Fans in the GA floor were excited throughout the whole show– jumping and throwing shirts into the air periodically. Lean brought the energy in his delivery and presence throughout the set, though occasionally a track would hit a slower section that was more relaxed. During more calm, singing tracks Lean would deliver the whole song live, opting not to shorten his songs’ arrangements very often.
About halfway through the set, he performed the iconic “Ginseng Strip 2002” off of the 2013 EP “Lavender.” While being a defining song throughout Lean’s career, it had an insane resurgence as one of the most popular tracks on TikTok in 2022. It was a highlight of the night to see such an important and influential song performed live. Around this time Lean also played older tracks such as “Hurt,” “Yoshi City,” “Gatorade” and “Ghosttown.”
After a quick break at 9:40 p.m. Lean (in a new, thinner cloak) performed a section of slower songs that began with “Hotel In Minsk,” a track from his 2016 project “Psychopath Ballads” released under the alias jonatan leandoer96. As a play on his birth name Jonatan Aron Leandoer Håstad, “leandoer” has released three projects on streaming services that are distinct from his Yung Lean persona. Following “Hotel,” Lean sang “Put Me in a Spell,” “Leanworld,” “Agony” and “Yellowman” before leaving the stage yet again.
For his final encore, Lean ended the show with “Miami Ultras” from his 2016 album “Warlord.” This was an appropriately loud, messy ending to a show that covered the many sounds of Lean’s career. While it was a bit confusing to not hear any of the namesake songs during this tour stop, it was still an impressive show as Lean proved that he was not afraid to perform long, singing tracks passionately on stage as well as loud, raging rap songs.
(Some of the song identification in this article is courtesy of setlist.fm.)