Let me tell you a story about a marvelous young band called The Oh Hellos.
I must first be honest about one thing, I have kept The Oh Hellos to myself for quite some time. I can’t even tell you how I first discovered them, but at some point in 2012 I heard one of their songs, and instantly fell in love. Brother and sister Maggie and Tyler Heath are each glorious songbirds, whose unique voices are typically backed by a chorus of a harmonies and majestic arrangements that sound like Arcade Fire’s folk-y cousin. Their 2012 album Through The Deep, Dark Valley has made me smile, its made me cry, its even helped me fall asleep when trapped in the same room with a family member whose snoring made me nearly homicidal.
After years of listening to their music, but never seeing LA appear on any of their tour schedules, I assumed that this would be band I would only experience via recordings – and I was totally fine with that. But then, a few months ago while persuing TicketFly, I miraculously stumbled upon their show at The Troubadour. I added the tickets to my cart, checked out, and thought nothing of it. A few weeks later, when a friend suggested they might want to join me, I took a look to see if there were tickets left, and not only had the show I had tickets for sold out, but a second date had been added, and it too was sold out. Apparently my secret band was not as secret as I thought.
Friday rolled along, and the day before I reminded my boyfriend that he would be joining me to see a band I had never mentioned to him, that he had never listend to, but who meant a very great deal to me. Given that it was the day after my birthday, and he’s a very kind man, he obliged. I warned him that I had done very little research into what their live show was like, and thus could not guarantee him anything, but I secretly suspsected we were in for quite a treat…and boy was I right.
The Troubadour was packed to the rafters with fans and band members alike (there were 11 total people on stage playing two drums, a banjo, two guitars, a fiddle, an accordian, a bass, one backup vocalists, and then Maggie and Tyler – who also had a guitar). The show was nothing sort of spectacular. The band’s energy is out of this world and completely contagious, Tyler and Maggie’s voices are even more incredible in person than they are on their albums, and everyone on stage seemed to be having the time of their lives. At the end of their set, the crowd chanted for an encore and, when the band re-emerged, screamed so loud I think my ears are still ringing.
During the show my boyfriend hit the nail on the head when he observed that every one of their songs sounded like it could be the soundtrack to Where the Wild Things Are. The show was truly a wild rumpus, and I think we are only just seeing the beginning of what I’m sure are many great things to come from this joyous and immensley talented group.
So do yourself a favor and listen to their album in its entirety here.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a little while you know that when Thrift Shop first came out, I was truly obsessed. I went full fan-girl after the NPR Tiny Desk concert, and was telling anyone who would listen how great I thought he was and “just wait ’til Can’t Hold Us is released as a singe…just wait.”
So, needless to say, when a friend sent out a mass email asking who wanted to go to his show at STAPLES, I eagerly agreed. While I’m not normally one for stadium shows, I figured I’d take a chance on the men who gave us And We Danced. A few weeks and one Metro ride later (yes, this LA girl took the train), I arrived at STAPLES this past Wednesday night. I’ll preface the rest of this post by saying I’ve been very busy at work, and more than anything just wanted to sit on my couch that night, so was maybe not in the best state of mind to go to a rowdy hip hop concert.
The night started with Big KRIT (whose set I mostly missed) and Talib Kweli – who, as always, was great. Hard to believe the man is nearing 40 and is opening for Macklemore, but so goes the industry. His set was unfortunately slightly marred by a cameo by a singer (whose name, to be perfectly honest, I can’t remember) who was a bit “under the weather” and wasn’t able to hit all the notes of her cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams. But props to the duo for trying to appeal to a sea of white people.
A lengthy set break gave me time to purchase some over-priced and underwhelming sushi along with a $13 alcoholic beverage. I thought that these things would help prepare me for what I assumed was about to be about 2 hours of straight groovin’. Welp, I was in for a bit of a disappointment.
While Macklemore’s show was replete with showmanship – from costume changes, to sets worthy of a Broadway musical, to custom video art projections, even a giant M made of Nike Air Jordans – the show overall seemed to be just…well, missing something. Between every song Macklemore took the mic and talked…a lot. And while I’m a fan of some good stage banter, this fell flat for me. Rather than cracking jokes, it was a lot of humble statements of how amazed he was to be playing a show this big (understandable), some stories about his past to set up his songs, and a lot of time spent listening to the roar of the (very young) crowd. These breaks seemed to, in my opinion, really interrupt the flow of what should have been a high-energy, party of a concert. That said, when he was actually performing he was great, supported by a full backing band of strings and horns, and joined on stage by his tried and true hook singers Ray Dalton (Can’t Hold Us) and Mary Lambert (Same Love).
Then came the end of the show. Macklemore finished his first set, and did not keep the crowd waiting long for an encore. To my great pleasure, Macklemore re-emerged on stage as Raven Bowie – his alter ego from And We Danced. He then proceeded to utterly crush that song: wig and glittery cape flowing, humping the floor in synch with his dancers, and running around the stage like the mad man he is – it was wonderful. He should have stopped there. He should’ve said goodnight. But he didn’t. Instead, he played a few more songs and then proceeded to take 15 minutes (no exaggeration) to introduce and thank every single member of the band on stage. It was a lot of talking, so much so that he said that he was getting told his time was up. As he spoke I began to wonder, how can he go out after this, he’s played all his hits – what’s left? Well after defiantly claiming that STAPLES center “doesn’t decide when the music is over” he launched into his final number…Can’t Hold Us…again. The crowd seemed to not care that it was the second time hearing the song in under 30 minutes, but I couldn’t help but feel massively disappointed.
Look, overall, Macklmore knows how to put on one hell of a show. And maybe he really was just so genuinely blown away by the 10,000 strong crowd that he couldn’t do anything but stand in awe of it and play hit songs multiple times. But let’s hope that next time he comes around, we get a little less talking and a little more dancing.