Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
w/ Raz Simone, XP
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
San Francisco, CA
There are few hip-hop artists today that can make an impact and maintain their own sole identity in this world. With hip-hop shows, I generally walk away not liking one or two of the artists that performed. This could be the headliner, but generally it's the openers that I'll have a problem with. This was not the case when Macklemore & Ryan Lewis made their highly anticipated stop in the Bay Area this past May, bringing along up and comers Raz Simone and XP for the ride.
XP, a frequent collaborator with Seattle-native Ben Haggarty (aka Macklemore) opened the show with a hyped up set of old-school hip-hop tracks. They were fun to listen to, and he is a very charismatic frontman. XP returned to the stage at several different times with Macklemore & Co. throughout the evening, the most notable moment being their duet of "Let's Eat", one of the more humorous tracks from Macklemore's second studio record, "This Unruly Mess I've Made".
Raz Simone, the sleeper hit of the show, took the stage about fifteen to twenty minutes after XP. Simone has an incredibly soulful singing voice in addition to a powerful rapping vocal ability, and it worked rather well with every track he brought to the stage. It took a little while for the introduction track to queue up and bring him out to the stage, but once he stepped onstage, he brought a memorable set to the Bill Graham Civic, one that was filled with meaningful hip-hop beats, rapped verses, and soulful melodies.
The main event came when Macklemore & Ryan Lewis finally hit the stage. Their build-up was superbly executed. You were hanging on the moment, waiting for them to run onstage. Ryan Lewis runs out, and the cheering begins. When Haggarty strides out, a plethora of fireworks shoots out of the stage from all sides, and the set begins with "Light Tunnels", the first track from This Unruly Mess I've Made, written about the night the duo won their first Grammy Award.
The night was filled with costume changes, humorous quips from Haggarty in between songs, serious moments ("White Privilege" is a track I will still reign as one of the best of 2016), dancers, and fan interaction that only further solidifies why the duo are at the top of their game in the hip-hop world. Macklemore has an unmatched ability of connecting with fans, one that any rap or pop star should envy. He's a superstar up there with all of the pyrotechnics and crazy stage setups, yet he comes off as a completely normal human being that likes food and making jokes with his buddies.
I'm hoping in the future that we'll get far more tours like this: tours that are dynamic and properly arranged all the way down to the opening acts, and have the ability to be as engaging as all of the acts we received that evening.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
This has been another Shameless Promotion.