Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
When Macklemore and Ryan Lewis last headlined a show in Los Angeles, in October 2012, they played the Fonda Theater. But by March they had filled the bowl at the San Manuel Amphitheater as part of the Paid Dues festival. Last night they packed the Staples Center — by themselves. It's really been a meteoric rise for the rapper and producer pair, who hail from Seattle.
It's hard to imagine how folks could deride an anti-materialism, positive-focused rapper on an independent label, but plenty have done it, both because Macklemore sounds a lot like the MC Slug, and because he's seen as too commercial. But he's winning over hip-hop heads, and it's hard to debate the fact that he can actually spit.
Last night their show had a slick stage production, including pyrotechnics, confetti, a huge screen and an M made up entirely of sneakers. The stage actually seemed too small for the act, along with their backing string and horn section. (Although the ceiling did manage to hold them.)
Talib Kweli, who opened, introduced him as the “Number one independent hip hop artist in the world.”
Taking the stage, the black tank top clad rapper, along with his producer, backing band and bevy of dancers, played a 90-minute set of material primarily from their album em>The Heist. Performing like a seasoned pop star, he played full versions of his songs, preceded by lengthy introductions, most notably on the pro-gay-equality “Same Love.”
The show had its flaws: Macklemore's rambling and aw shucks demeanor can wear a bit thin. Though perhaps he was just trying to stall during the elaborate stage changes.
“I never thought I'd be playing a headlining show at the Staples Center,” he said at one point. Seeming to understand that most of the people here hadn't been with him since the beginning, he added: “It doesn't matter if you've been with us for two years or two months. What matters is that you're here with us celebrating tonight.”
Are Macklemore and Ryan Lewis too commercial, too polished to be hip-hop? Survey says no. Yes, their music resonates with a lot of people, but that's not the result of any sort of calculated, corporate behind-the-scenes manipulation. As live performer, Macklemore definitely demonstrated his chops.
Critical Bias: Time for them to cover Incesticide in its entirety.
The Crowd: Lots of Seattle Seahawks jerseys. The girl to guy ratio was 5:1.
Random Notebook Dump: It's weird to see $30 merch t-shirts from the “Thrift Shop” guy.
Set list below:
Ten Thousand Hours
Life Is Cinema
Can't Hold Us
And We Danced
Can't Hold Us