Midway through Tyler, The Creator's set Friday night at Mr. Smalls, a guy in a white Mario Lemieux throwback jersey jumped out on stage with a mike. It could only be Mac Miller.
The Pittsburgh rapper, based mostly in LA now, walked on for a track called "OK," which will appear on Miller's forthcoming album, "Watching Movies with the Sound Off," with a feature from Tyler. It was hard to get a sense of the track, what with all the rush to get bad cellphone pictures and everything, but let's just say it was uptempo.
Up to that point (and after), Tyler was doing pretty good on his own. The frontman of LA crew Odd Future, just 22, stands out in the rap scene with a voice unlike anyone else's, unless you want to count Tom Waits. It's that sandpaper-y.
He made a surprise entrance, rushing on stage with "French" during a slow moment in crew member Taco's DJ set. On this first trip to Pittsburgh, there were no hoods or upside-down crucifixes, as he sported back in 2011. Just his white T-shirt and green "Wolf" cap.
He was playfully contentious with the crowd and their requests, and loose with the set, starting a bunch of songs with "Ok, let's do this." On stage with Jasper Dolphin, he mixed songs from his forthcoming album "Wolf" with "Goblin" highlights from the drony, minor-key "Fish" and "Nightmare" to the jarring "Yonkers" to the rowdy closer "Sandwitches."
It was a much different show than A$AP Rocky's Pittsburgh debut two nights earlier at Stage AE. This was less of a party free-for-all and more focused on Tyler's mike skills and off-kilter (often vulgar) style. Toward the end of his set, he did his own stage dive, and even managed to make it back to the stage with both shoes on.
Backstage, Miller said he couldn't wait for people to hear his second album, which is due in late spring. Expect something more introspective than "Blue Slide Park" and not quite as druggy as the mixtape "Macadelic."