Wiz Khalifa closes tour with homecoming concert

Music review

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Wiz Khalifa had a moment during the sold-out Saturday close to his "Rolling Papers" tour at the Trib Amphitheater.

At the conclusion of the Pirates' losing game against the San Diego Padres, fireworks lit up the sky over PNC Park. Khalifa, then between songs, walked to the far left edge of the stage and looked over the crowd to the park. A huge grin broke out on his thin face.

He lifted the mic to his lips as if to speak, but only let loose a high-pitched stoner giggle. He scrambled back and forth across the stage, arms windmilling, knees wobbling. Excitement built in the audience as the strains of "Black and Yellow" filled the amphitheater.

Khalifa threw himself into the song as if his life depended on it. Two cannons flanking the stage shot endless clouds of black and yellow confetti into the air. Khalifa's name flashed across four video screens in black and yellow script. Audience members screamed along, swinging Terrible Towels above their heads as if under seige by a swarm of bees.

This was what they had waited for -- through two opening acts by Chevy Woods and Big Sean, three underwhelming DJ sets, four hours of 90 percent humidity and many overpriced Miller Lites.

Pittsburghers have always wanted the best for their scrawny, tattooed, fellow Steelers fanatic. By all rights, Khalifa has made good: In the five years since the release of his first album, "Show and Prove," he has racked up a BET best new artist award and an MTV Video Music Award nomination. He has sold out massive shows in San Francisco and Maryland and, after more than two months on the road, chose to close the tour at home.

But just before the Pirates helped Khalifa engage in collective Taylor Gang wish fulfillment with "Black and Yellow," he did a number on the audience all by himself.

During the last verses of the weak serenade, "Roll Up," Khalifa brought onstage his profane and statuesque model girlfriend, Amber Rose, and dropped to one knee. "Whenever you want me, you know you can call me. I'll be there shortly," the shirtless Khalifa sang to Ms. Rose. He punctuated the sappy lyrics by licking his way up his girlfriend's thigh.

It wasn't easy to read Ms. Rose, a Philadelphia native who's most famous for dating Kanye West. Her giant "Terminator" sunglasses and bemused smile gave away little. She's reportedly come onstage for Khalifa's slobbery "Roll Up" tribute at other shows along the tour.

Though Ms. Rose might be used to it by now, the same couldn't be said for Khalifa's Pittsburgh fans. They dutifully cheered but laughed and looked confused in equal measure. This wasn't the Khalifa they knew.

Luckily, Khalifa didn't play the dime-a-dozen hip-hop lothario for long. He spent the bulk of the night in ever-hustling goofball mode, asking the audience for tips on where to find weed in the city, since "I've been gone for a while," and dousing the front rows with a squirt gun.

When he took the stage in a simple white T-shirt, jeans and a tiny pair of mirrored sunglasses at the beginning of the night, he started out with the same opener he's been using throughout the tour -- the infectious, self-aware "When I'm Gone."

"And they say all I rap about is bitches and champagne / You would too if every night you seen the same thing," he rapped, swaying and jumping in circles as the screens displayed an idyllic image of blue skies. When the song ended, he stood back from the microphone and presented himself to his fans.

"Pittsburgh, it's your boy, Young Khalifa," he said.

They recognized him, and they cheered.

Lauren Rosenthal: lrosenthal@post-gazette.com .


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