Review: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis concert
Seattle-based hip-hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are arguably the coolest guys out there. They have made one of the most significant splashes in the mainstream music puddle in history, all from defiantly stamping the heel of their unsigned, independent combat boot.
They’re the largest independent hip-hop duo out there. They made Billboard history by being the first duo to have their first two releases reach the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. They’ve independently sold over 1 million copies of their critically acclaimed sophomore LP, “The Heist.”
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis can’t be contained, and hearing them offer one memorable meaty number after another makes “The Heist” an exciting listen, according to allmusic.com.
They accomplished all of this in little more than a year, as “The Heist” was released in early October 2012. They’ve also remained some of the most unflinchingly humble lads out there, as was made evident in their performance at Reliant Arena on Wednesday.
The duo opened up the performance with “BomBom,” an entirely instrumental track comprised of swirling piano patterns and smooth, velvety percussion. Most of the track is glossy, and it doesn’t pick up much pace until some boisterous trumpets make an ending appearance. It wasn’t your standard opening track — but then again, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis aren’t your standard sultans of hip-hop.
Much of their astronomical popularity can be attributed to their refreshingly unreserved support of same-sex marriage and gender rights issues. What truly separates their music from the pack, however, is the noticeable absence of female objectification and glorification of substance abuse within their lyrics.
Ryan Lewis, the duo’s producer, was behind his elevated turntable for much of the performance. Macklemore, whose real name is Ben Haggerty, assumed the reins as the charismatic, enlivened host for the evening.
The concert seemed to double as part musical performance, part confessional and part wicked dance party. After performing “BomBom” and “Ten Thousand Hours,” a track centered around retrospection and one’s definitive roots, Macklemore wasted no time opening up with the roughly 5,000 fans who had gathered that night to see them.
“I love gold teeth, I love candy colored cars and I love the rap from Houston. But the one thing that I’ve learned over the years that I love about Houston is that the people of Houston have incredible style,” he said. “Let me get some lights on and see what you guys wore.”
Macklemore pointed out the flannel button-ups, tie-dye hoodies, a Waldo tee and a gentleman with a massive bearskin jacket, nearly identical to the one worn by Macklemore in the now-iconic “Thrift Shop” music video.
“Good sir, do you think that you could pass that jacket up?” he implored, as if it was even necessary.
The awestruck fan wasted no time passing up his coat through the standing audience, and Macklemore immediately dove into a rambunctious performance of “Thrift Shop,” a single that served as anabolic steroids for his burgeoning career. The song isn’t anything to be taken seriously, as it details the decrepit findings of a thrift shopper in a hilariously smug fashion. Macklemore was backed up by four female dancers, who engaged in synchronized dance numbers throughout the entire concert.
“Thrift Shop” co-performer Wanz was also present for the performance, letting his full-bodied vocals bring the crowd past the brink of pandemonium.
Nothing about the concert was done halfway — everything, whether it be stage costumes, audience interaction, pyrotechnics or dancing, was performed with excess and pure abandon.
The passion of both the artists and the audience was palpable, as Macklemore spoke with fire about one of the duo’s most public advocacies — gay rights.
“I believe that no government, no state, no institution, no religion, no student, no school, no human being on this earth can tell you who you love and that your heart is right or wrong — that’s up to you,” Macklemore said. “I believe in compassion. I believe in tolerance. I believe in equality, and I believe in love.”
Macklemore’s performance of “Same Love” brought about a distinctive sense of fellowship in the arena. He was offset with crimson spotlight, mirroring the fire and vigor of his song’s message. Mary Lambert, in a gorgeous kelly green gown, sang the chorus with tears welling up over her cheeks.
Macklemore also gave an a cappella performance of “Otherside,” a bare-all track about the realities of Macklemore’s past drug addiction. Macklemore explained to the audience that he wrote the song in 20 minutes after newfound acquaintance Ryan Lewis dropped a Red Hot Chili Peppers sample beat. The track has since become one of the duo’s most popular, and his poetic delivery of the song’s lyrics spellbound the audience.
For as much sensitivity as the performance brought, there was just enough ridiculousness to compliment. The performance of “Can’t Hold Us”, which featured none other than Ray Dalton in the flesh, was met with a slew of soaring confetti, fiery pyrotechnics and a stage-diving Macklemore. The song was performed once more as a part of the duo’s encore, which completely caught the audience off-guard in the best way possible.
The pinnacle of the concert’s awesome absurdity might’ve just been Macklemore getting into a sequined leopard leotard and 1980s-esque mullet wig for the performance of “And We Danced.” The epic is something of a superfluous mythical depiction of a sex-crazed British dance legend. The audience utterly lost it for this performance, gyrating with all of the abandon of, well… a sex-crazed British dance legend.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ concert was the most dynamic, multifaceted concert I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. The evening was refreshingly real, sincere and off-the-cuff. It wasn’t overly sentimental, and it wasn’t annoyingly absurd. It was as if a few thousand of the city’s luckiest got to spend an all-bets-off evening with some of hip-hop’s biggest artists today and share some genuinely unscripted memories with them.
“My entire life, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving was always my favorite day of the year,” Macklemore said. “Houston, we need to have a celebration, so put your hands in the air!”