Posts Tagged ‘Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’

[Review / photos / video] Macklemore & Ryan Lewis at Midtown Ballroom

Friday, October 26th, 2012

(All photos by The Bulletin’s Joe Kline. More of his excellent shots ran in today’s edition of GO! Magazine in The Bulletin. See them here.)

Note to self: Don’t wait almost a full week before writing a review of one of the biggest indoor shows in Bend this year.

Reason 1: Readers don’t want to wait that long. It’s 2012, bro. Internet.

Reason 2: I can’t really remember the more nuanced thoughts I had in the moment about Friday night’s Macklemore & Ryan Lewis show at Midtown Ballroom in Bend.

Here’s what I do remember: Passion. Effort. Sweat. The skyrocketing popularity of the Seattle-based rapper Macklemore — aka Ben Haggerty — has been, as I wrote in my story on him, “fueled by passion: the passion that permeates his songs, and the passion of the people who adore his music.”

Add to that Haggerty’s passionate live performance and you have a pretty clear idea of what’s pushing this guy beyond his grass roots into major mainstream success. He seems to put everything he has into his shows, which is a striking thing in the frequently ho-hum world of live hip-hop. I’ve seen lots of rap shows over the past several years, and too often, they end with a phoned-in 45-minute set by a headliner acting like they can’t wait to get back on the bus.

Friday’s show couldn’t have been any further from that. For 90 minutes, Haggerty bounded around the stage, throwing his whole body into his verses and working the sold-out crowd — 1,200 people, the vast majority under the legal drinking age — into a lather. With Lewis stuck mostly behind the decks and offering the occasional shout, Macklemore was, in essence, his own hype man.

That’s not to say he was alone under the lights. Besides Lewis, there was a female cello player and male violin and trumpet players on stage all night, plus four guest vocalists who joined the party throughout the set. It was a pretty interesting thing to see: The presence of the instrumentalists was an immediate indication that this was not your typical hip-hop show, while the parade of singers (not to mention the sweet Macklemore-branded tour bus parked on Hill Street) made me wonder just who’s paying all these folks to cruise around the country. (Dude is famously doing this without record-label money.)

Macklemore's trumpet player, Owuor Arunga.

Anyway, on to the music: After a dramatic entrance and the loudest crowd-scream I can remember in the Midtown, the set started off a little slow, I thought. The soundman seemed to still be dialing things in during “Ten Thousand Hours,” while “Crew Cuts” and “Life is Cinema” were both a bit muddy and lacking in oomph. (Haggerty did compliment our town’s collective facial hair at this point, however. As a bearded Bendite, this scored points with me.)

Then, the whole tenor of the night changed when Haggerty borrowed what looked like a vintage fur coat (may not have been vintage, may not have been fur) from a fan and the beat and bass for “Thrift Shop” buzzed through the Midtown, laying the foundation for one of the night’s highlights. People went nuts. Just nuts. Here, through the magic of video, you can watch for yourself. Sorry about the sound quality, but … yeah, the bass was loud:

From there, Haggerty and his crew ran through a bunch of faves: “My Oh My,” a sentimental tribute to the late Seattle Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus; “Otherside,” a cautionary tale about drug use; “Same Love,” the touching pro-marriage equality anthem that elicited a huge, approving roar and sing-along from the audience. The manic house-music beat of “Can’t Hold Us” was another high point; the song’s bass hit me in the chest like a medicine ball, traveled down through my toes to the floor, and, I assume, on to the center of the earth. It was devastatingly thunderous.

Along the way, two video screens flanked the stage and showed footage of bears, martial arts, Mariners highlights and lyrics. About halfway through his main set, Haggerty soaked his own Macklemore-branded tank top with sweat, before switching into a Seattle Supersonics jersey for “The Town,” an ode to Seattle and its hip-hop scene. He ended the main set with “Wings,” a commentary on consumerism built around adolescent obsession with fancy sneakers, and “Gold,” a poppy, celebratory tune about being on top of the world.

After a very short break, the group returned for a three-song encore — “Castle,” “And We Danced” and “Irish Celebration” — that didn’t live up to the energy of the main set, in my opinion. But the show came to a serendipitously appropriate ending when the light show shorted out during the encore’s second song and Haggerty performed most of “Irish Celebration” with the house lights on, hazily illuminating both the crowd and the stage.

That was not planned. I know, because I watched the guy controlling the lights completely lose his mind when he realized he’d lost his show during the night’s climax. But in a way, it was perfect: Right now, the music career of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis is reaching new heights every day, thanks in large part to the devotion and support they receive from their fiercely loyal fans. The makeshift light situation during “Irish Celebration” gave the final song of the night a sort of communal feeling, as if these fans had been purposely drawn into the show as a way of acknowledging their role in this story, and/or to reflect the humble, man-of-the-people persona of their pale leader.

“I f–king love you guys,” Haggerty said, before raising his hands to the sky and slinking off stage, on to the next sold-out show in the next town.

This week in GO! Magazine’s music section

Friday, October 19th, 2012

When we were discussing what to put on the cover of today’s GO! Magazine, I mentioned tonight’s Macklemore & Ryan Lewis show at Midtown Ballroom and told my coworkers this: We get a lot of has-beens and not-yets and never-will-bes in this town, but it’s not that often we have an artist come through at the very same moment that they’re the hottest story in music. Tonight is one of those times. Macklemore – aka Ben Haggerty from Seattle – is in his moment.

Tonight, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis will rock a sold-out Midtown Ballroom. I wrote about their current wave of success and their new album “The Heist,” but focused on the best, most important song on that album, “Same Love.” Here’s an excerpt.

In it, Haggerty tackles the topic head on, ignoring a long-held taboo in hip-hop. He lays out his own stereotypes about homosexuality, decries the casual use of “gay” as a synonym for “bad” in our culture, calls out his own genre for looking the other way and, along the way, weaves in commentary on politics and religion. Seattle vocalist Mary Lambert ably sings the beautiful hook: “I can’t change/ Even if I wanted to,” which is lifted from one of Lambert’s own songs.

Haggerty closes his third verse this way:

“I might not be the same
But that’s not important
No freedom till we’re equal
Damn right I support it.”

Whether or not you or I agree with Macklemore is not the point here, by the way. The point is to acknowledge the guy’s forever-place in a watershed summer for the heretofore odd couple of hip-hop and homosexuality.

I enjoyed writing this, and I hope you’ll read the whole thing.

Also tonight, the third Jazz at the Oxford series kicks off in Bend with a night of Portland blues. My colleague David Jasper spoke to iconic Oregon bluesman Curtis Salgado about his battles against cancer and how they’ve changed him as an artist.

“It’s scary because the older I get, the older I want to get. It’s scary because you don’t want to know how you’re going to die,” said Salgado, who saw his mother die of cancer. “Cancer is the ultimate predator. Cancer’s like a great white shark. It’s dangerous and fascinating at the same time.”

But, with no chemotherapy required, Salgado has been able to do what he’s done for decades: get back out on the road, this time in promotion of “Soul Shot,” his first all-soul album, which dropped April 10 on Alligator Records.

If there’s any plus to cancer, Salgado said, “It just fine tunes you into life, and what’s around you, and every moment. I used to want to fill a coliseum with people and win lots of Grammys and have a nice house on the McKenzie River, you know what I’m saying?”

Now, “I don’t care anymore,” he said. “I’m just very blessed to be here. I’m blessed to play my music with my friends, and play to people who are so nice to me. It’s like, look, man, I owe the universe.”

Read the whole thing and peruse the series’ 2012-13 schedule here.

Elsewhere in this week’s music section: Adventure Galley, The Autonomics, Black Pussy, Aldrine Guerrero, Matt Woods, Michael Dean Damron, The Rum and The Sea and more.

Have you heard of Macklemore?

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

If so, that’s great. Nice job keeping up with hip-hop, the Northwest scene and/or just music in general.

But if not, behold some of the most amazing concert footage I’ve ever seen:

That’s Macklemore, a Seattle-based rapper, headlining Key Arena in his home town during the 2011 Bumbershoot.

Key Arena has a capacity of around 15,000 for concerts, and the place is packed to the rafters.

Now, I had heard of Macklemore before I saw that footage, but had no idea he could fill an arena, even in Seattle. That’s a testament to the enthusiasm and devotion of his fast-growing throng of fans, who are, generally speaking, young, finding their way in life and no doubt drawn to the guy’s brutally honest and emotionally charged rhymes.

Ryan Lewis, left, and Macklemore

Macklemore’s profile has grown considerably since that Bumbershoot gig, by the way, and this fall, he and his DJ, Ryan Lewis, will embark on a massive world tour in support of their debut album, which comes out in October. That tour will stop at Bend’s Midtown Ballroom on Oct. 19. Tickets will cost $18 plus fees in advance and go on sale here on Friday.

It’s gonna be interesting to see how many Central Oregon kids are hip to the dude and turn out for the show.

I bet it’ll be more than you think.