Return to the Mack
I truly have been spoiled this year with some of the best concerts I have ever been to, and we’re adding this one to the list.
I have been saying for a decade now that Macklemore, aka Ben Haggerty, is one of the best and most energetic performers in the game. Last week’s show at the Armory proved that to me again.
My fourth time seeing him was the best performance I have seen from him, and that is saying a lot. He brings the energy every time and you leave having danced, laughed, cried, shivered and feeling like you just witnessed and felt the absolute magic that live music presents to all of us.
I was introduced to Macklemore through his song “Can’t Hold Us”, specifically the live KEXP performance in 2012. Since then he has been one of my favorite artists and despite the flack I get for it sometimes, I think he is one of the most genuine and wholesome people I have ever seen perform as well. Every time I go to one of his shows, he truly interacts with the crowd, he is always insanely grateful and humble, and he just seems like someone you could get a coffee with and leave feeling rejuvenated with a clear head and a full heart.
For me, personally, what I love about this man so much is everything he stands for. For being yourself, fucking up and becoming better because of it, getting back up when you’re knocked down, loving everyone around you and learning from those around you along the way.
Perhaps his music just means so much to me because of his deeply vulnerable storytelling of addiction in his songs. Yes, he has his fun with “Thrift Shop” and “Downtown,” the ones that get radio play and everyone knows, but he also has songs like “Otherside,” “Starting Over,” and “Excavate” that ring through the fibers of my being in ways I can’t always find the words to explain. Music has always meant the world to me, and Mack is one of the artists that mean the most. He creates music that is so heartbreaking, real and vulnerable while allowing other people to be seen for all their flaws, imperfections and struggles, myself included.
The show last Sunday reminded me of my love for him. His first crowd interaction of the night, he gave a speech about live music and how powerful it is at bringing us together. For him, and for me, and for so many others, nothing makes us feel more alive than live music. Proven time and time again, that rings true throughout my life.
His shows in Minnesota are extra special. Everyone wants to say that artists always say shows are their favorites of the tour, but Macklemore has a special love for Minneapolis that he always says in detail at every show here. This isn’t something he just says, but something he deeply means as he also says every time. He said that Minneapolis is so deeply rooted in his career and that he has an affinity to this place. Minneapolis was huge in the underground hip-hop movement. It has always been a city of music and a city that uplifts music. Macklemore credits the city to some of the success in his career and hearing him say his love for this place I have grown up in and have such pride in is something that warms my heart every time. You can feel that he means it and that it’s real. He pours his heart into every performance but especially gives it his all in this wonderful city, which is evident by the sheer energy and production of each show.
Another thing I love about him and his shows (and something that I have been saying for years is the pinnacle of a good performance) is the crowd interactions, speeches, jokes and everything that is shared between the artist and the crowd throughout the show. He is one of the best, if not the best, artists when it comes to crowd interactions that I have ever seen.
The first time I saw him, he crowd-surfed a giant stuffed tiger up to the stage. The second time, he threw a cookie from the stage to the upper levels in the back of a big arena. And this time, he brought up two people up to the stage for a dance-off. One of them was a younger girl and when it was her time to go, she did a kick and slipped, falling to the floor. She got back up and kept going like absolutely nothing happened. Afterwards when she was back with her mom, Macklemore stopped the whole show to focus on lifting her up.
He said then and on his social media that it was his favorite part of the show and the tour. Why? Because she got back up and kept going. He said that we should all strive to be like her and that we all have fallen and gotten back up. He had the entire place chanting her name and being there brought goosebumps. It was such a wholesome moment of true love between strangers.
Macklemore has been a sort of role model for me, especially in the music industry which is so competitive, unforgiving and gatekeepy at times. He has been fully independent for his whole career. To be as big as he is, being independent is unheard of. It is a true testament to who he is, what his work has done and how he goes about this world.
When he was thanking his team, he went on much longer than other artists typically do, which he apologized that he wasn't sorry for it. He had said he felt alive and something about Minneapolis makes him emotional and sappy, so he wasn’t going to apologize for feeling alive and being human. He brought out that humanity as he described different people in his band as being with him for the past 10-20 years of his career. He was thanking them, crediting them to his success, telling stories of their friendship, and sharing a bit of their strong relationships with each and every one of us in the crowd. The love was evident and the loyalty was clear.
His entire show atmosphere has always been to take care of one another and have a blast. The production of his shows is always next level with a full band, full graphics, backup dancers, costume changes, guest appearances, dance-offs, jokes, you name it.
Truly adding this to one of my favorite shows of all time. He said this was his favorite show of the tour and I don’t doubt that for one second.
No bad days
And We Danced
Good Old Days
Can’t Hold Us