Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
Dec. 10, 2012
Better than: A rapper with a sloppy haircut
Ryan Lewis rocks back and forth in the dark corridor that connects the dressing rooms to the main stage, stretching his legs and messing around with a scooter the group uses onstage. Above him on the staircase stands his best friend and the second half of this Seattle based hip-hop duo, Macklemore. He is carefully adjusting his clothes and fixing his hair in a mirror.
"Two minutes," a stage hand tosses in their general direction.
Lewis is done stretching his legs, and now uses them to jump up and down, shaking his head back and forth in mid air. Macklemore's eyes move from the mirror to the stage only briefly before he closes them and takes several deep breaths. Beyond the curtain, a bassy beat and chants of "Macklemore! Macklemore! Macklemore!" build in the sold-out crowd.
"Tell them we're ready," Lewis says on behalf of the duo.
Barely audible over the now deafening crowd and distinguishable beat of "10,000 hours," Macklemore raps loudly on top of the staircase to himself, arms flailing wall to wall. A quick shuffle down the stairs and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are taking the stage for the last show of their 50-city world tour.
The song -- the coming of age story of Macklemore, detailing his battle with drug addiction and dedication to reach his goals as an artist -- seems fitting for a man who has gone from living in his parent's basement to finishing up a world tour to a boisterous sold-out crowd in San Francisco. But part of Macklemore and Lewis's magic is their ability to also do light-hearted songs like "And We Danced" right alongside the more concious ones, and have the whole package seem natural.
The energy put out by Macklemore & co. was given back two-fold by the crowd. As the duo broke out into "Same Love," their pro gay-rights anthem, we had a hard time finding someone in the crowd who wasn't rocking out. Those who weren't jumping up and down waving their arms in the air could be seen secluded in the back, mouthing every word, deeply connecting to not only the music, but the message -- a pretty spectacular feat for an artist whose hit song is about going to a thrift shop and buying a fur coat.
Even though the show was sold out, there was plenty of space in the back half of the room, because most people were gathered so tightly front and center, eager to catch the action (and the stage-divers). Ryan Lewis, in particular, got off a stage dive that looked like it was straight out of a Minor Threat live footage video. Macklemore had some sick dives too, but his best move was definitely head-walking
(although very slowly and respectfully) on fans. When he got a couple rows deep, he stood straight up and started dancing on the collective palms the crowd, moving just like the 10,000 ants in "10,000 hours." He continued dancing on his descent into the throbbing mass of humanity.
In between songs Macklemore explained that he relapsed briefly after three and a half years sober when he came back from his last tour. He didn't tell a soul about the slip-up until he wrote a song about it. That's the kind of honesty in music that can be hard to come by (especially in anything played on the radio).
Maybe it's because he isn't signed to a major. Maybe it's because of how close he is to the group he tours and makes music with (his tour manager is his girlfriend, for example). Maybe it's both those things, but there is definitely something different about Macklemore. A certain amount of realness gets communicated to the crowd through his performance. It leaves you feeling like you had an in-depth conversation about life with the guy after sitting through the show in the balcony of the venue.
Jumping back and forth between the serious and the silly, Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, and the sold-out crowd pushed themselves (and the floorboards of the Regency) to the limit last night.Critic's notebook1.
A girl was stretchered out of the venue, but she was laughing hysterically the whole time. I asked one of people carrying her out what happened to her and he turned to me and said, "I have absolutely no idea."2.
One of the openers, Dee-1, was performing a song when he started inviting people from the crowd onstage. The first six people he picked out were all rather young, and it looked like there was a middle school dance party going on behind him while he was rapping.
It was a pretty embarrassing state of affairs, and I really didn't think things could get any goofier. That's when a pale-skinned, blonde-haired, fur-coat-wearing man jumped on stage and started busting out some "Thrift Shop" dance moves. The crowd cheered loudly.
We imagined the thought process of the crowd: "Oh my god, Macklemore is here! This is what we've been waiting for! *yells in excitement* . . . Wait, why is Macklemore so bad at dancing? . . . Why did he come out before his set? . . . Is that Macklemore? Is that him? Dude, is that really Macklemore? That guy is busting out some goofy-ass dance moves, are we really here to see THIS guy?"
No. No we weren't. That was just Macklemore's doppleganger, who undoubtedly went on to have sex with a girl who will ultimately wonder, "Wait, why is Macklemore so bad in bed? Why are we banging in a '97 Honda Civic? Where's the tour bus, Macklemore?"Check out our full slideshow from the concert
Follow us on Twitter @SFAllShookDown, follow Rae Alexandra @Raemondjjjj, and like All Shook Down on Facebook.