Macklemore & Ryan Lewis at First Avenue, 11/30/12

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis at First Avenue, 11/30/12
Photo by Erik Hess

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
With Dee-1 and Xperience
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Friday, November 30, 2012

Arriving onstage wearing a fur stole, Macklemore did everything with an epic air during the first of two sold-out First Avenue shows. With his clever, positive lyrics, the internet sensation brought a high-energy live show that included back-up dancers, polar bears, and fake money raining down from the ceiling.

See Also:
Slideshow: Macklemore at First Avenue
Macklemore on thrift shopping post-"Thrift Shop"

To the opening measures of "Ten Thousand Hours," the rapper turned his back to the audience and raised his finger in the air, waiting for the right moment to turn around and claim the crowd's attention. Charming the group, Macklemore claimed, "Minneapolis, it's so good to be here," leading into how he brought out his scooter when he arrived in town Friday morning and rode past First Avenue to see fans lined up outside already.

The performer recalled the last time he was in town for Soundset, saying he forgot how gorgeous the women of Minneapolis were and how awesome the mustaches of the men were, prefacing, "I bet you have crazy pubic hair here, too." This little speech included a ramble on haircuts and opened for his favorite haircut, the "Crew Cut."

Macklemore bridges the generation gap, taking samples from the Killers' "All These Things That I've Done," the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Other Side," and even Beverly Hills Cop. As he was cruising the line, Macklemore found a lot of people in fur, taking one of the said coats from an audience member to wear onstage. "Oh, my god. You killed a polar bear. This is a Minnesota Polar Bear," the performer said holding up the coat. Riding around on his scooter, he launched into his catchiest hit, "Thrift Shop," which had an audience member throwing out fake twenty dollar bills during the hook. 

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis at First Avenue, 11/30/12

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis at First Avenue, 11/30/12
Photos by Erik Hess

Witty songs about simple subjects seem to be Macklemore's specialty, as evidenced in "My Oh My" (about the late baseball broadcaster Dave Niehaus) and thrift shops, but his story about gay-inclusive love may be his best. He opened the piece by saying how excited that Barack Obama was re-elected into office a month ago -- to a mixed reaction from the crowd -- and how Mitt Romney scares the shit out of him. He was so proud of his home-state of Washington and Minnesota's stances on gay marriage, saying it was a civil victory, allowing him to look into the future and be hopeful. Bringing Mary Lambert to share in the poignant piece, the rapper proved how to be positive without being preachy.

There's two ways artists approach addiction; it's either taboo or they are open in sharing their stories. "Starting Over" tells of someone getting sober and fighting their demons and coming to terms with what addiction did to their life. Turning up the energy to the end of the show -- a concert that had to end before 9:30 pm due to the curfew -- Macklemore returned with the fitting "Victory Lap" to celebrate two sold-out back-to-back- shows at First Avenue and segueing into "Gold," which had the rapper and Ryan Lewis stage-diving into the audience.

The encore set opened with Macklemore in a Liberace-like cape and fake mullet dancing along with his backup dancers to his poppiest song "And We Danced," and closed with "Irish Celebration," a self-explanatory piece that had his entourage waving an Irish flag onstage. With his quick rise to fame, it will be interesting to see what the young rapper does with his talent, but for the moment, he is reveling in his element.

Critic's bias: I have not been to a hip-hop show in a long time, but it was really interesting to see young kids at a show that most possibly changed their lives.

The crowd: Young, white teens with a few parents.

Overheard in the crowd: "It's fake." - A young boy to me and my friend as we picked up one of the twenties that were thrown during "Thrift Shop." Thanks, man. We didn't realize that real twenties are only printed on one side.

Random notebook dump: The set change between the opener and Macklemore was minimal. I forgot that rappers really don't use instruments in their sets.


Ten Thousand Hours
Crew Cuts
Life is Cinema
Thrift Shop
My Oh My
Same Love
Can't Hold Us
Beverly Hills Cop
The Town
Starting Over
Victory Lap

And We Danced
Irish Celebration

City Pages on Facebook | Gimme Noise on Facebook | Twitter | e-mail us

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >