Macklemore and Ryan Lewis New Haven Concert Review

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After fighting their way onto the popular music scene, Seattle-based hip hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are finally cashing in on the success that persistence, a loyal fan base, and more than 10,000 hours of logged studio time studio will get you.

Macklemore (real name Ben Haggerty) and Ryan Lewis have been working together as a collaborative team since 2000 and are currently in the process of ascending from their status as hometown heroes to that of national superstars, having finally found success after their recently released debut album titled “The Heist.”

“The Heist” was released on Oct. 9 and entered at No. 1 on the U.S. iTunes download charts and No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard 200 charts, selling 78,000 copies in the first week.

As soon as their album was released, the duo embarked upon The Heist World Tour, which was created to promote and celebrate their debut album.

Recently, the band performed at Toad’s Place in New Haven, which was the first time either of the West Coast gentlemen had been to Connecticut.

Currently, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are not signed to a record label. According to Haggerty, this is completely by choice, as the band has been offered several contracts at this point but has turned them all down.

In a song off their album called “Jimmy Iovine,” Haggerty raps about what it’s like to be an independent artist in today’s modern music industry and how, at the end of it all, the artists themselves are the ones left with the short end of the stick.

One of the many facets of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ overwhelming success as independent artists is the fact that their music, more specifically their latest album, isn’t comprised of a bunch of similar songs. In fact, it could be argued that their diversity and variety is what’s making them so popular; it’s as if they have a song for everybody.

While some of their music is heavy and deals with serious topics such as their song “Otherside” about battling addiction, they have produced plenty of light-hearted songs such as “And We Danced,” which is a humorous song about enjoying a really great impromptu dance party.

The pair have also been applauded for producing several songs that comment on and draw attention to civil rights topics and societal issues such as gay marriage, racism and the dangers of consumerism.

Like many artists who are making it big these days, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ success is rooted in a strong Internet presence and subsequent fan base.

Known for their artistic and high quality videos, several of the band’s music videos have gone viral, including the videos for their singles “Thrift Shop,” which is played regularly on BET, and “Same Love,” a video about marriage equality that has been viewed on YouTube more than 30 million times. This latter video has also drawn the attention of well-known celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres, who had the the band on her show for a live performance of the song and gave everyone in the audience a copy of their CD.

Their Nov. 18 concert at Toad’s Place, a small and relatively intimate venue, was filled with a frenetic and nearly tangible energy that can only be produced by genuine fans. Many in attendance were college students from nearby schools such as Yale University, Quinnipiac University and Fairfield University.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performing "Victory Lap"

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performing “Victory Lap”

Fairfield sophomore Patrick Kueny who attended the concert said, “The crowd was unbelievable, absolutely amazing… that was probably my favorite part. Everyone was singing along to every single song and we all knew the lyrics.”

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis gave an entertaining and lively performance that came with all the trimmings: sequin-clad dancers, multiple costume changes (including wigs) and more than a few stage dives and crowd surfs.

When the familiar beat and trumpets started blaring, introducing their most popular single “Thrift Shop,” the crowd roared and seemed to break out in dance simultaneously. Before Haggerty started rapping, he pointed to a few people in the audience who were sporting fake fur jackets and asked if he and Lewis could wear them as they performed the song.
Unsurprisingly, they said yes and crowd surfed them up to the stage.

In between sets, Haggerty and Lewis would address the crowd and talk about a variety of topics, ranging anywhere from how thankful they are for their supportive fans to how pretty they think the girls in Connecticut are.

In what most fans would consider a highlight of the night, Haggerty complimented the crowd on their enthusiasm and energy, saying that this crowd may have cracked their top three favorites of all time.

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Artist of the Week: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

Photo by Jason Koenig

This week’s Artist of the Week is the hip hop duo know as Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Hailing from their beloved hometown of Seattle, WA., the pair, who have been fighting their way onto the scene for a while now, are finally cashing in on the success that persistence, a loyal fan base, propensity for fake fur and 10,000+ hours of logged studio time studio will get you.

Macklemore (real name Ben Haggerty) is the band’s rapper and front man while Ryan Lewis is the band’s producer and DJ who creates and spins all of the beats. The pair met roughly “6 or 7 years ago” according to Haggerty and have been working as a collaborative team ever since.

Recently, they released their debut studio album called “The Heist” on October 9, 2012, which entered at No. 1 on the US iTunes download charts and No. 2 on the US Billboard 200 charts, selling 78,000 copies in the first week. On the night the album was released on iTunes, Haggerty kept tweeting about his disbelief, his excitement and his appreciation for his fans.

Twitter feed from the night “The Heist” dropped

While Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are defined as a part of the rap/ hip-hop world we all know (and sometimes love), the content of their songs is what sets them apart from other artists attempting to do the same thing. Instead of rapping about strippers at the club or how many gang fights they had to get in in order to be considered street, they rap about topics that are truly personal to them and have a clearly defined message. For example, their song “Otherside” talks about how Haggerty struggled to beat drug and alcohol addiction for several years and how he’s finally sober, having made it to the “other side.” According to Haggerty, he has received a lot of feedback from fans who said they were dealing with similar issues and found strength and solace in listening to his song and story.

However, one of the many facets of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ beauty is the fact that their music, and more specifically their latest album, isn’t comprised of a bunch of the same songs. In fact, it could be argued that their diversity and variety is what’s making them so popular; they have a song for everybody. While some songs are heavy and deal with serious topics such as “Otherside”, and more recently a follow up song called “Starting Over”, they have produced plenty of light-hearted songs such as “And We Danced”, which talks about enjoying a really great impromptu dance party. The pair has also produced several songs that comment on civil rights topics and societal issues, such as racism  in their song “A Wake”and the dangers of consumerism in their song “Wing$”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vhf5cuXiLTA

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are currently not signed with a label. According to Haggerty, the band has been offered several contracts at this point, but have turned them all down. In a song off their album called “Jimmy Iovine”, they talk about being independent artists, the nature of the modern music industry and how at the end of it all, the artists themselves are left with the short end of the stick. The last line of the song is, “I replied I appreciate the offer, thought that this is what I wanted/ Rather be a starving artist than succeed at getting fucked.”

Known for their artistic and high quality music videos, several of the band’s music videos have gone viral such as the one for their single “Thrift Shop” (which is played regularly on BET) and also “Same Love” (which has been viewed on YouTube more than 30 million times.) Upon noticing the stir that the “Same Love” video was generating (which is a song promoting marriage equality), Ellen DeGeneres (of the talk show “Ellen”) had the band on the show for a live performance of the song and gave everyone in the audience a copy of their CD.

I chose to make this duo the Artist of the Week because in light of all of this overnight success, they remain humble and appreciative of the fans who got them to where they are. They remain loyal to their roots in Seattle, giving shout outs left and right, and also never forget to thank every last person who made it possible. In their song “Ten Thousand Hours”, the chorus sings, “Ten thousand hours felt like ten thousand hands,/ Ten thousand hands, they carry me.” Whether this refers to the physical hands supporting them as they crowd surfs at sold-out shows or the metaphorical hands of those who have been cheering them on from the start, the fact that they stop to say thank you in the very first track off their album speaks volumes, regardless of what sound system it happens to be playing on.