Macklemore & Ryan Lewis at Free Press Summer Fest, 6/2/2013
Photos by Marco Torres
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Free Press Summer Fest, Eleanor Tinsley Park June 2, 2013
Perhaps the schedulers behind this year's Free Press Summer Festival know something the rest of us don't.
The rapper/DJ duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are at the peak of their careers so far, garnering more attention by the day. And the FPSF attendees were anxious to see and hear them perform late Saturday afternoon, as made clear by an enormous crowd that engulfed the entire hill and every possible vantage point in the area.
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Macklemore's lyrics, both inspiring and provocative, have always been the basis of his act, but Ryan Lewis' beats are what have put them at the center of pop culture. The combination of the the rapper's verses and Lewis' thumping instrumentation, laced with rhythmic, sing-songy hooks, has caught the ear of the world, and the duo are determined to do more with their fame than just live the high life.
But that doesn't mean they can't have a little fun, too.
A fur coat worn by a brave, overzealous fan was crowd-surfed up to the stage Saturday, where Macklemore, at the behest of the crowd, put it on. Fitting for Houston, he also performed "White Walls," making countless mentions to Cadillacs and rims, even admitting that, being from Seattle, he couldn't tell you a damn thing about the paint.
His short set was filled with dance-friendly songs, with a fewer slower, more thought provoking cuts thrown into the mix. Bun B even made a cameo, performing a few verses of "Draped Up" as fans lost their collective shit.
But it wouldn't be a Macklemore show without some emotion and a call for societal improvement.
"I believe in equality, I believe in compassion... And I believe in change," Macklemore said from the stage. "And Houston is at the forefront of the most important civil rights movement of our generation."
This was, of course, a reference to our city electing the first openly gay mayor in the country, and "Same Love" followed. As the chorus came, the crowd began to chant along, drowning out the recorded vocals blaring from the speakers.
As if showmanship wasn't enough, the Seattle-born rapper pays attention to the details, too. Fans needn't look further than the #22 Portland Trail Blazers jersey (of one Clyde Drexler) to notice. Lewis, meanwhile, has become quite the hype man, tucked away behind his computer one minute, only to run to the front of the stage to incite the crowd the next.
Other artists shout out a city's name merely to rile up the crowd, but Macklemore and Lewis knew exactly where they were, and they were happy to be here. Only six months ago, the two performed at the House of Blues' Bronze Peacock Room to a small but energetic crowd, and just look at them now.
But how big are they, exactly? Well, even J.J. Watt and Mayor Annise Parker stuck around to hear their set. It's hard to say though, so I'll just let Mack have the last word on this one.
"We are not Metallica," Macklemore told the crowd, draping the fur coat from his shoulder. "But we are pretty fucking close."
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