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.
Last night, despite not having today off (or even a half day), I dragged my sorry butt to the Troubadour to check out Brooklyn band Caveman. While I had listened to plenty of their music beforehand, I still wasn’t quite sure what I was going to see at the show. Overall, Caveman’s music falls under what I personally dub “indie easy listening,” a.k.a. music that is definitely cool, definitely interesting, but is also the sort of thing you can put on at work and not really pay to much attention to, just enjoy. Sometimes, however, this sort of indie doesn’t always translate to a live show. This was, thankfully, not the case with Caveman.
Watching the show, singer Matthew Iwanusa’s voice is what really struck me (that and seeing the disco ball at The Troubadour put to use for the first time). It’s clean, clear, and under control. Okay but seriously – it’s really really good. It really brought their music to another level, and lifted the whole dynamic of the band. The guys played a good mix of old and new, debuting a lot of songs from their self-titled upcoming album. Jealous you didn’t hear any? Well lucky for you NPR is streaming the album before its April 2nd release date.
And as a little extra bonus, check out the guys performing one of my personal favorites “Where’s The Time” on The Artie Lang show.