On Monday night, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis packed Towne Field House for a highly anticipated concert. While the majority of the crowd was composed of students, the concert also attracted members of the community, including – to the surprise of several students – professors. After opening act Vera Flash performed, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis took the stage and played for about an hour and a half.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis brought a full cast and crew to Williamstown, including Ray Dalton, who is featured on Macklemore’s latest single “Can’t Hold Us” and Wanz, who is featured on the hit that propelled Macklemore onto the national stage, “Thrift Shop.” Additionally, the concert featured trumpet player Owur Arunga, who opened the show with a short solo and quickly became a crowd favorite.
Arunga came onto the stage to start the show by playing the slow, drawn-out opening notes of “Ten Thousand Hours” and sending the crowd into a frenzy in anticipation of Macklemore’s appearance. When the rapper finally took the stage, he validated the struggle that All-Campus Entertainment (ACE) Concerts Committee went through to bring him to Williamstown. Macklemore engaged the boisterous crowd, feeding off the energy in the packed field house. Macklemore and his entire crew committed to the performance, bringing his music to life.
After a few songs, Macklemore delivered a long interlude to introduce “Thrift Shop.” Throughout the show, Macklemore made several comments about how small Williamstown is, joking that after getting heavily Instagramed coffee at Tunnel City Coffee, he continued down Spring Street only to find that the street ended. All of this culminated in Macklemore bemoaning the lack of an open thrift shop in town. While the introduction smacked of the tense process that went getting Macklemore to come to such a small campus at all – an allusion to which ACE probably did not appreciate – he convinced a number of students to toss clothing onto the stage for him to wear during the performance. He ultimately settled on covering his Orlando Magic jersey with a homemade green and brown poncho, whose owner can finally be proud to own something so hideous.
The highlight of the night was Macklemore’s rendition of “Same Love,” which speaks to society’s rejection of homosexuality. The song was a crowd favorite and it seemed as if everyone knew the words to sing along. The song hit on why Macklemore is so popular today. Plenty of rappers can sing about gaudy wealth or their excessive sex lives, but Macklemore’s music takes a stand on issues that are relevant to our generation and makes us proud of the music we listen to. “Same Love” clearly struck a chord with the audience, particularly given the current legal battle over same sex marriage.
After a little over an hour, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis left the stage, only to return for an encore with the audience shouting, “And we danced,” referencing Macklemore’s hit of the same name. The ensemble came back on the stage to perform the song and ended the night with a performance of “Irish Celebration.”
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis both bounced around the stage when they were performing their music, bringing an infectious energy to the crowd. However, Macklemore often engaged in extensive interludes to introduce songs that, while at times humorous, were ultimately too long. The rapper dropped a few funny College-specific jokes, but he stopped after every song to introduce the next song, and it disrupted the flow of the music. He also continually said, “We didn’t know what to expect when we came here,” which seemed to reference the struggle ACE underwent to accommodate the act, a sore subject that it was probably not necessary to address at the concert.
However, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s concert was what the campus has needed for years. With a low-key set, Macklemore and his entourage provided all of the energy needed to make a great show. The anticipation leading up to the concert was high, and the exchange of excitement between the performers and the crowd showed that this was the type of concert the College had been anticipating: A concert with a hit performer who was committed to putting on a great show. Previous acts at the College like Kid Cudi and Mike Posner failed to tap into the enthusiasm unique to a crowd of college students, but Macklemore related to his audience, speaking to us as our contemporary and eliminating the divide between performer and audience member, often quite literally by crowd surfing.
Monday night’s concert proved that in addition to being able to rap on relevant issues and produce a hit record, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis can put on a fantastic performance. Despite the headache caused by rescheduling the act, Monday’s concert was undoubtedly a huge success.