Seattle hip-hop act Macklemore and Ryan Lewis put on a kingmaking performance Friday night inside Portland’s Roseland Theater as part of MusicFest Northwest 2011. The show had everything you could ask for: incredible music, incredible crowd energy, and incredible charisma from Macklemore.
Prior to Friday night, I had heard a few tracks from Macklemore and Ryan Lewis I enjoyed. If I had any doubts about attending the show, Portland weekly newspaper Willamette Week ended them by blasting Macklemore on its cover this week. The music and the hype were enough to bring me and 1,200 others out.
The crowd reaction two songs in was about as deafening as I have heard in a venue this size. You would have sworn Macklemore was hip-hop Jesus incarnate. I must admit I was a bit skeptical at first. White rapper hype can be deceiving, especially in a place as vanilla as Portland. But Macklemore earned every ounce of the crowd’s love.
The dude went H.A.M. He jumped around the stage like an Odd Future kid, rapped in the audience, and donned a ridiculous blonde wig for “And We Danced.”
Macklemore’s DJ and producer Ryan Lewis was a ball of kinetic energy behind the boards urging the crowd to throw their hands in the air. The band’s trumpet player was similarly raucuous.
The crowd ate it up. They threw their hands in their air, shouted choruses, and pogoed until the floor shook. The couple in front of me PDA’d in a manner that suggested a baby would be made that night.
In between songs, Macklemore provided snippets of his backstory a la VH1’s Storytellers. He came across as exceedingly humble and thankful. He loved Nikes, the Mariners, and hip-hop.
And just when I thought the crowd couldn’t love Macklemore more, he proved me wrong when he mentioned he rooted for the Trail Blazers since the Sonics left Seattle for Oklahoma City. The Roseland Theater crowd erupted. The guy could not miss Friday night.
Until this past year, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis had played shows in front of 50 to 75 people in Portland, the MC told the crowd. The way they owned the moment Friday night I predict it’s only a matter of time before they headline shows at venues capable of holding more than 1,200 screaming fans.