As an independent hip-hop artist, Macklemore’s rise to success is generally attributed to the wild popularity of his viral song and music video “Thrift Shop.”

However, at the Arena at Gwinnett Center last Friday night, the Seattle-based rapper proved that he is much more than a one-hit wonder.

While the venue did not sell out, Macklemore’s fans, the Shark Face Gang, came out in droves to show their support. And their enthusiasm was that of a crowd twice their size.

Everyone, from young kids to middle-aged adults, reciprocated the rapper’s high energy, eager to satisfy his wish that this be “the greatest dance party in ATL history.”

He rose to stage clothed in a gold jacket, and could hardly contain his energy, starting “Ten Thousand Hours” as he paced the stage, which was covered in artificial leaves and prominently featured a large stuffed bear.

After some words on his love for Atlanta to electrify the crowd, Macklemore put out a request for a fur coat, which a man in the front row was more than happy to provide. The performer, wearing the large, second-hand coat, moved straight into “Thrift Shop,” a song that highlights the band’s brilliantly-gifted trumpeter.

In a break from the party beats, Macklemore showed his serious side, rapping sans music to “Otherside,” a song about his struggle with addiction.

The star, born Ben Haggerty, has also long been a proponent of gay rights, which he rallies for in the hit “Same Love.” The crowd cheered as he started the song by bringing out special guest Mary Lambert to sing the enchanting chorus.

However, the magic truly began in the moments before when “two very special” guests were invited onto the stage. A female couple walked out, and the arena filled with “aww” as a surprise proposal took place.

In a transition back to a less serious tone, Macklemore shared his grievances about the iPhone with his fans. Claiming it killed freestyle, he suggested that rappers were fearful of making mistakes and subsequently ending up on YouTube.

But he said that he was “not afraid,” and proceeded to rap using a various sampling of lyrics from some of his other songs.

Keeping the energy high, Macklemore transitioned to one of his most popular songs, “Can’t Hold Us” as red, white and blue streamers fell from the ceiling and pyrotechnics flashed on stage.

The fans on the floor, in anticipation for one of Macklemore’s signature moves, immediately pressed together as he jumped onto the crowd’s outstretched arms.

After a quick change into a black and gold matador-esque costume, the rapper was ready to perform “White Walls,” an upbeat song about his white Cadillac.

And as the cello and violin provided a harmonious bridge into “Wing$,” dozens of sneakers hung by their shoelaces over the stage; a video with Nike images ran in the back.

The arena filled with voices from the beginning of the inspirational song, and the crowd was unified as they rang in with a crystal clear “Mom, I touched the net.”

Macklemore is known for multiple encores even after the set supposedly ends.

He did not disappoint his expectant crowd.

After individually introducing and thanking everyone in the band, especially his producer Ryan Lewis, who spent most of the show on an elevated platform in the back, Macklemore ended his two hours on stage with “And We Danced,” a repeat of “Can’t Hold Us” and his signature ode to his heritage, “Irish Celebration.”

The show ended with a positive energy.

Macklemore made sure his fans “had a really, really, really good time.”

– By Blaire Chennault 

Photo courtesy of Shalina Grover

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The Emory Wheel was founded in 1919 and is currently the only independent, student-run newspaper of Emory University. The Wheel publishes weekly on Wednesdays during the academic year, except during University holidays and scheduled publication intermissions.

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