Macklemore, Ryan Lewis drop Party City down onto USF Sun Dome


Ty Wright / Valencia Voice

Macklemore (shown) and Ryan Lewis performed for the first time in Tampa on Saturday at the USF Sundome.

As an eventful week of concerts came to an end, I found myself in Tampa for one of the most anticipated shows of the year, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

In what may be one of the biggest pop-shows that have graced the area this touring season, the Seattle-based duo managed to buy out Party City and drop it on the USF Sun Dome.

Decked out in a gold-laced military jacket resembling the late King of Pop Michael Jackson — I knew it would be an interesting night as Macklemore, whose real name is Ben Haggerty, made it known early that this was his first time ever performing in Tampa.

Backed by a full band, a group of dancers and his best friend Lewis, the rapper started off the night with the first track off his album “The Heist,” entitled “Ten Thousand Hours.”

Despite what many call Lewis riding off of Macklemore’s fame, after hearing Macklemore lengthy anecdotes, it’s evident that he deserves to share the top-billing because without him Macklemore would probably still just be some 30-year-old white rapper Sleepless in Seattle. While Lewis doesn’t speak much during the set, he acts as an intricate part working as a DJ and percussionist.

A majority of the songs on “The Heist” is message music and that appeared to be the theme of the night as Deacon Haggerty preached in between each song. In a set that was a little over 90-minutes, Macklemore managed to break down the history of his life explaining to the crowd how he was addicted to drugs and alcohol, and how he and Lewis became friends and how they use to record music in Lewis’ parents basement once he got out of rehab.

Macklemore made the most out of his props and even managed to get the crowd interacting early. During the performance of popular single “Thrift Shop” he performed in members of the audience clothing, borrowing a Santa Claus sweatshirt and furry hat from two lucky fans.

While most of the set were made up of songs from “The Heist,” Macklemore managed to add in a free-style derived from a looped he BeatBox on the spot. Moving to smoothly through the words I find it hard to believe he made the lyrics up on the spot, but either way it was fun, plus it stopped him from talking so much.

Moment of the night came when he invited Mary Lambert onto the stage to help him perform “Same Love,” a song speaking about social injustices which shows support to the LBGT community. The single is my personal favorite from the artist, thanks to the message and production of the chorus, so it was good to see all the original acts perform it live instead of a audio recording of Lambert’s verse.

Macklemore and Lewis pulled a play from out of the Throne’s (Jay-Z and Kanye West) playbook and performed song “Can’t Hold Us” not once but twice, inviting Ray Dalton on stage both times (who at first I thought was Sean Kingston from far away).

Hip-hop legend Talib Kweli and up-and-coming Mississippi rapper Big K.I.T. acted as supporting acts.

Big K.R.I.T got the night going and wasted no time getting into that “Country Sh*t.” Performing songs off of his various mixtapes and albums, the 27-year-old rapper set had enough bass to loosen all the bolts that held together the building’s foundation.

With just a DJ stand resembling an early 90’s Cadillac backing him, Big K.R.I.T. demanded attention as he moved smoothly through his bar, performing his more “radio friendly” songs.

Kweli hit the stage shortly after K.R.I.T.’s 30-minute set and enlisted the help of a few friends to help him get through his time. Philly-native female vocalist Res — who was really looking forward to going to Chili’s Grill & Bar for the first time after the show, which I am sure did not end up happening due to the restaurant closing at midnight and the show ending a little after 11 p.m. — blessed the stage for a few songs, as well as Houston-rapper Cory Mo who are both signed to Kweli’s label Javotti Media.

Minimalistic at its best, Kweli took the time to perform some of his classic songs as well as music of off his latest album “Prisoners of Conscience.”

While the Tampa crowd was supportive of K.R.I.T and Kweli, it’s still uncertain if they were appreciative at what they were witnessing. It hurt my ears when I overheard a kid who was rocking a Tupac shirt ask his friend, “Who is this? I thought you invited me to a hip-hop show,” during Kweli performance of “Get By.” As I write this, I still find myself utterly disturbed by those comments, and don’t truly know how long I will continue to shake my head in disgust.

With Kweli coming out with a new album next month and K.R.I.T. rising as an artist, it would be interesting to see both artist come back to the area and perform in a setting of their core fans or at least to a crowd whose first time listening to hip-hop was “Thrift Shop.”

(Photos from the night)