Bumbershoot 2011: Macklemore is Seattle’s New Music HeroPosted by Jonathan Cunningham
It’s hard not to call Macklemore anything else than what he is right now: a local music hero. Having watched Macklemore’s rapid ascent over the past 12 months, I can honestly say that this is one of the most awe-inspiring forms of upwards career trajectory I’ve ever witnessed. Two years ago, Seattle didn’t really know who Macklemore was, and yet at Bumbershoot 2011, he might as well be Katy Perry. In fact, I’ve covered a Katy Perry concert before in an arena and it looked a hell of a lot like the way the crowd received Macklemore yesterday. Teenagers were screaming maniacally, some passed out, and many were wearing Macklemore’s now iconic “My City’s Filthy” tank top like it was a badge of honor. Seriously, it should be. And it is. Macklemore’s raps help legions of young Seattleites have pride in their city and that’s a beautiful thing.
A person can’t help but be proud of the performance that he put on last night—a performance that in my opinion is the best of Bumbershoot 2011. He had total command of the crowd before he even touched the stage. Ryan Lewis did a good job getting everyone amped up and then Macklemore came out like he owned the city. The wardrobe, the song selection, the backing musicians, the vibe, hell, everything just screamed that Macklemore the Humble Pop Star has fully arrived. Ask a 15-year-old today who they idolize the most from the local music scene and they will tell you without question that it’s Macklemore. The same way people used to feel about Soundgarden or Pearl Jam or Nirvana, young kids in this city feel the same way about Macklemore. It’s a crazy statement but it’s the friggin truth.
My favorite part of yesterday’s set wavered in between two moments that are very different. Watching Shawn Kemp come out on stage while Mack wore his jersey was huge. Massive. The crowd cheered as Mack added that “bet you didn’t see that one coming” type of showmanship that an arena performance demands. Well played. Secondly, watching him rap his guts out on his newest single, “They Can’t Hold Us,” was important as well. That wasn’t pop rap or let’s idolize Dave Niehaus rap, that was “I’m it and you better know it” type rap. He’s poppy these days, sure, but Macklemore can still rap his tale off.
The official numbers through the door for Macklemore yesterday were 10,000. Wiz Khalifa had 11,300. The reality is, the majority of the people in the building for Wiz were really Macklemore fans who simply stayed put. He’s the king of the city right now, and it’s well deserved.
Update: Video of Macklemore entering Key Arena via Jordan Nicholson