The charm of Hoodie Allen is not only his ability to live up to his fast-talking, smooth-singing songs but also his undeniable love for what he does. Steven Markowitz, known professionally as Hoodie Allen, has a certain ability to connect with an audience — watching him on stage feels like meeting him one on one. He brought his aura of pure fun to Atlanta Nov. 20 on his Hype World Tour 2017.
The concert was held at Center Stage, a smaller venue with seating and a small empty area right in front of the stage that the audience would later use as a mosh pit. It was a little empty when I arrived, but began filling up closer to 10:10 p.m. when Hoodie Allen took the stage. The audience consisted mostly of older teens, a few people who seemed to be legally drinking and, the clear majority, young women.
The openers, Myles Parrish and Luke Christopher, played rap songs similar in style to Hoodie Allen’s music. Parrish, a young guy with the looks and comic charm of a Vine star, was surprisingly fun. He had the energy and boyish charm of a rap-style-Shawn Mendes and knew how to play a crowd. He frequently spoke directly with the audience, made eye contact with as many people as possible and assigned the audience specific dance moves to keep everybody interested. Luke Christopher was less successful at hyping the crowd up and lost control of the mosh pit, as most people stood still and became distracted by their phones.
When Hoodie Allen finally came on stage, the energy changed from one of numb boredom to utmost excitement. The presence of an actual, live band was one of the biggest, and best, surprises for me. I love live music and appreciate seeing actual instruments rather than a man on a computer. His band was technically talented, and he joked around with them frequently throughout the show.
Hoodie Allen is phenomenal live. Not only does he sound almost exactly as he does in recordings, but he also knows how to command a stage and hold a crowd’s attention. He moved around the stage enough to keep it interesting but not so much that he was difficult to follow. His dancing and jumping set an attainable, high energy level for the audience. He filled the space in between songs with fun banter with the bandmates and audience members about his songs and experiences at other shows. He tailored the show to the audience by asking fans whether they wanted more of his older music and taking into account the audience’s reactions to certain songs. One of the perks of having a smaller venue: Allen had the ability to actually speak with several audience members. Allen surfed the crowd, threw actual cakes into the audience during his song “Cake Boy” and called a lucky fan on stage from his phone designated specifically for communicating with fans.
Hoodie Allen’s genre is fast, challenging rap that’s attainable with practice and a little skill — the lyrics are just dangerous enough to make you feel rebellious but not so mature that someone would be scared away. His songs focus on fame, money and sex and include enough curse words to merit parental advisory warnings.
Hoodie Allen played a variety of songs at his concert, with a heavier focus on his older albums like “All American,” a smashing, rough pop album whose crackling synths swelled to even greater life in the concert hall and “Crew Cuts,” an edgy, fun and fast paced album that received tons of appreciation from the crowd Those songs’ structure displayed his signature rapped verses and sung choruses, and were fun for the audience, which was clearly familiar with them. He also played “Fakin,” “Sushi,” “Know It All” and “Something Dangerous” from his new album, “The Hype.” Those songs are the more upbeat and party-centered tracks of the album. “Sushi” and “Something Dangerous” are particularly catchy, with longer vocal sections, making it easy for the audience to join in. The older songs he sang, like “Small Town” and “No Interruption,” were throwbacks for Hoodie Allen fans, and their faster beats and heavier rap style gave him a chance to show off his fast-talking skills.
Even though the Hype Tour centers on his new album, “The Hype,” Hoodie Allen played a lot of music from his previous albums. His older music, while still upbeat and fast, was less centered on EDM beats and computer-generated music. That being said, “The Hype” fits in well with Hoodie Allen’s older music. He continued to employ a more sing-song style of rap with fully sung choruses as he always has. During the performance, he called out fans who knew the words to his songs by pointing them out to everyone or even yelling out to acknowledge them.
It’s near impossible to be in a bad mood while watching Hoodie Allen goof off and have a genuinely good time performing. He’s a talented, devoted musician who knows how to put on an endlessly entertaining show that leaves a crowd wanting more, which this crowd did. After he left the stage, the audience chanted “Hoodie” for about a minute and he returned to the stage and performed two extra songs. I have no doubt that the crowd would have stayed all night if Hoodie Allen had allowed it. I know I would have.