Macklemore show is highlight of SpringFest celebration

Amelia Cooper-Davis/Sun Star Reporter
May 1, 2012

UAF Student and SAO employee, Teal Rogers, dances in front of the Wood Center in Springfest’s annual Dance-Off held on Thursday, April 26, 2012. Erin McGroarty/ Sun Star

Bass rumbled from inside the Patty Center Friday night, tickling the waiting line of SpringFest attendees. The triple-wide line wound from the door, across the parking lot, and onto the edge of Beluga Field.

Scores of shivering girls in trucker hats and denim shorts buzzed with excitement. One man with two Heinekens in one hand and a pair of sunglasses in the other shouted “Case day!” as he made his way to the back.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, masters of anticipation, were scheduled to entertain at 8 p.m.

Ben Haggerty, otherwise known as Macklemore, is a 28-year-old hip-hop artist from Seattle, Wash. He and his producer, Ryan Lewis, perform Haggerty’s politically and socially conscious lyrics in tandem. Trumpet player Owour Arunga was also a key performer at the Student Activities Organization-sponsored concert.

Inside, it was dim and hazy. Attendees were little more than anonymous hats and polos. Moving lights crisscrossed in purple and yellow through the smoke across the stage, separated by LED down lights. Blue patterned light was projected onto the ceiling.

At the beginning of the show, the top row of bleachers was filled from wall to wall, but by the end the gym floor was filled by almost all of the more than 1,200 who attended. Macklemore introduced himself as an ’80s baby, and asked the crowd what decade they were collectively born. He then had Lewis fetch his “time traveling jacket” to pay appropriate tribute to David Bowie.

Macklemore’s intelligent humor and pop-culture references hit the college crowd in all of the right places.

The Patty Center is a surprisingly effective venue: it did not get hot or sticky, the sound was great and there was enough space for the huge crowd. Still, more than one attendee mentioned that the fact that it was in a gymnasium made it feel a little like a high school dance.

The show ran from about 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. North Pole native DJ 50/50 and Alaska Red started the night with a collaborative set. They relied heavily on call and response with the audience. A few students flippantly complained about the prominence of obscene words in their music. On hearing the word “nigger” one student said, “it’s like ‘Where’s Waldo,’ but, like, easy.” At around 9:40, they wrapped up their set with a cover of Boyz-n-the-Hood, to which the audience exuberantly sang along.

Macklemore is an inspirational speaker as much as he is a hip-hop artist, with songs that shed light on consumerism’s effect on youth, determination, and dreams. He shared his life experiences including his first performances, spending high school isolated with a karaoke tape deck, and how Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers” inspired him to follow his dreams. At one point, he had the audience chant “we are fucking awesome” in unison.

Team Hustlepuff waits for their start during the second annual Springfest Quidditch tournament on Saturday April 28th, 1012. The tournament was held on the SRC field on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus at 3pm. Michelle Strehl/Sun Star.

One person was removed from the concert, to which Macklemore responded, “There is no reason to fight at a hip-hop show, ever.”

Macklemore mentioned that he made it to where he is with no record label and no funding.

“We have nobody behind us, all we have is music that connects with the people,” he said. Macklemore made the cover of XXL Magazine’s Freshman Special issue this April with a handful of other new artists who are just breaking into the music industry.

At the end of the night, he had almost everybody dancing. With the help of lights and sound and his own provocative speeches, he connected to the audience in a surreal way.

“The ego will kill any dance party,” he said, “but the heart overcomes the ego.”

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