Macklemore & Ryan Lewis: Live In Boston [Concert Review]
Posted by Grubeats on November 26, 2012
Thanksgiving came one week early for Macklemore & Ryan Lewis fans, as the duo energetically turned the sold out House of Blues into their musical cornucopia. As the sun set and the brisk Boston air settled, fans from all over New England lined Landsdowne Street hours before the doors opened, hoping to grab a spot close enough to catch a drop of Macklemore’s sweat. Many stood dressed in character, more than likely raiding their grandmother’s closet or the local Goodwill earlier in the day to find the freshest fur. Some went as far as cutting their hair to match that of the #SharkFaceGang captain. It’s amazing how dedicated fans can be.
With hopes of bypassing the line and making my way into the heated venue a bit earlier than the rest, I stopped at the box office only to find the media list was still “under construction.” With time to spare, I snapped some pictures of the infamous Heist Tour Bus, detailed with everything from a mountain goat to a cactus to a Paul Wall grill, before spotting young Ben Foley of Swaggernaut Productions. As Ben and I chopped it up, we noticed Ryan Lewis grabbing a breath of fresh air out of the venues side door. As fans remained oblivious of their idols presence, we calmly let the man enjoy a moment of tranquility before it was his time to drop the needle on the vinyl.
As the clock stuck 7:00 the doors opened and the hodgepodge of anxious hipsters, I-wear-skirts-in-November chicks, snapback skaters, and show-stopping thrift shoppers flowed into the building. Baffled as much by the middle aged man in the back bobbing his head to “The Next Episode” as the eclectic outfits I continued to see, I decided it was time to refocus over a BL Smooth pounder.
Washington state’s underground vet, Xperience was first to grace the stage. Wearing The North West on his chest (literally, that’s what his shirt said), the hip-hop/soul crooner brought with him an electric attitude and made his introduction very worthwhile. Backed by the famous @Macklorettes suited in retro leopard print, XP performed both notable singles, “60/40” and “Coco Jones”, incorporating enough live elements into his historically “underground” music to keep the crowd lively and in tune. Following his performance, the Mannie Fresh-cosigned New Orleanian, Dee-1, shared his Weezy-esque sound along with his unconventional story. Opening up with his recently released single, “I Am What I Am”, Dee-1 made it clear haters are free to hate. It wasn’t until he told the crowd that 2 years ago he was a middle school math teacher, that heads really began turning. Four years of college, a bachelors degree in marketing, and a teaching job later, he’s pursuing his dream and on tour with one of the hottest groups on the planet. In hopes of igniting some energy in the crowd, Dee pulled five random fans up on stage to perform his hit, “Ya’ll Ain’t Ready”. All masked with awkward facial expressions when prompted to “bounce”, the five Gumby like figures wrote their own destiny, one at a time diving back into the sea of fans, capped off by the lone female who hesitantly made the dive nose first into the crowd. Classic.
At this point, the anticipation was bubbling onto stage. Two hours felt like 10,000. There was a distinct aura in the air. The Heist had arrived.
As the lights opened up, the extended Haggerty family and 2,500 onlooking fans alike focused their eyes to center stage. Ryan Lewis and the kilt-wearing trumpet player, Owuor, supplied the instruments as Macklemore pointed one finger at the sky with his back to the crowd, before turning 180 degrees and entering his first verse of “Ten Thousand Hours”.
“Make sure the soundman doesn’t cock block the drums
Let the snare knock the air right out of your lungs
And those words be the oxygen
Transitioning to their 2010 hit off VS. The Redux EP, Mack takes a minute to reflect on some of the respectable hair cuts he caught a glimpse of in the crowd. When its all said and done, nothing tops those 90’s inspired Crew Cuts, which Mack and Ryan segway’d into. Testing the loyalty of the crowd, they next performed “Life Is Cinema”, which proved many of the fans have been riding this bus for years.
When someone throws a fur coat at you on stage, what do you do? Without question, you put it on. Whether or not this was part of the act (if it happened at any other show, I wouldn’t buy it, but this seemed like it happened sporadically enough to be a random act), ‘it was f*cking awesomeee’ (Wanz voice). After suiting up in the 100% real rabbit cloak, Mack goes on to tell us why he is so infatuated with recycled fur. Something like, “It’s not that I enjoy wearing dead animals, I view it more as giving these animals a second life they would have never had. When would this rabbit ever have had the opportunity to perform in front of a sold out crowd?” Not even PETA can argue that one. From here, Mack ditches the stage only to return with a scooter and well dressed Thrift Shop sidekick, Wanz. As expected, the venue’s architecture was tested as they turnt it up with the lead single off The Heist, “Thrift Shop“. Bonkers, I tell you, bonkers.
3,000 miles away in a historic baseball city, every passionate baseball fan sang along to the Dave Niehaus tribute, My Oh My, as if we all grew up listening to his voice. Reflecting on a childhood love for Ken Griffey, even Red Sox fans appreciated this one. With the aforementioned fact that Fenway Park was a stones throw across the street, Ben shared his interest in collectively breaking into the 100-year old stadium after the show and having a huge game of wiffleball. We can all dream, right? Speaking of the what’s on the other side of the road, fans channeled their inner Red Hot Chili Peppers while listening to the very moving record, “Otherside”. The first record after the EP marked a profound step in both Mack and Ryan’s careers and they were proud to share that during their performance. Undoubtably the most personal song from Macklemore is “Starting Over”, which he often chokes up over while performing. Knowing Mack’s story, where he once was and where he is now, makes the music that much more truthful. I can only imagine how difficult it is to perform that song, especially with your family and thousands of fans marking every word.
Macklemore hit the nail on the head pointing out outsiders perceptions of Seattle; “Synonymous with coffee, grunge music, and rain.” “I noticed something walking around Boston today,” said Mack. “There are a ton of pretty girls in this city. Guys, you’re lucky.” Thank you Mack, I’ll have to agree with you on that. Macklemore segway’d into his Unplanned Mixtape’s standout track, “The Town,” an ode to his city. After swooshing the crowd with their picturesque, children’s choir crowned anthem, “Wings,” Mack, Ryan, and the beautiful Hollis turnt it up and painted the walls white. Hearing this hook live was unbelievable. Hollis, you’re an angel. Another member of the camp who is under appreciated is Ray Dalton. That man can sing. On record and on stage. I will say, when RL dropped the “Can’t Hold Us” beat, the entire house started to bounce. As I said in my album reflections post, that is one of my personal favorite beats on The Heist.
Knowing how incredibly lively the crowd was the entire night, I was unsure how they would react if and when Ben and Ryan performed their valiant single, “Same Love”. After sharing his personal joy in watching President Obama be reelected for a second term [crowd goes wild], Macklemore shared another significant law that was voted through. “Referendum 74 was passed in Washington State,” Macklemore said with a cheerful grin on his face. “Same sex marriage is now legal.” I’d like to think in large part that was a result of the underlying issues addressed in “Same Love”, raising awareness and opening eyes. When the keys came through the speakers, the entire venue cheered instantaneously. Every single person in there was singing along. Word. For. Word. After the song concluded, Macklemore said,
“I could have never imaged 2,500 people singing along word for word to that song. That was unbelievable.”
As Mack and Ryan concluded their set, everyone collectively wished for one last time. “That’s all. Thank you! Peace out bitches,” Macklemore said as he darted off stage. Without question he would be back, right? Or had the curtains closed?
“It’s the part of the show where it all fades away
When the lights go to black and the band leaves the stage
And you wanted an encore but there’s no encore today
Cause the moment is now, can’t get it back from the grave” – Macklemore
As the stage went black, illuminated cellphone screens began to emerge from the sea of fans. We weren’t leaving without an encore.
…back they were, “And We Danced”. We would remember this moment for the rest of our lives.
After reaching a “Boston Garden” level of volume, Mack and Ryan had one last treat for us. Let’s just say it was hella wild, capped off with a second level balcony dive into the crowd by RL…
In conclusion, Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, and the entire team put on an unbelievable show. I have an infinite level of respect for these artists and wish them the absolute best.
P.S. Thanks to the wonderful Trisha for giving FNT this opportunity!
Additional Photos from @SwaggernautBen: