There was a lot at stake at Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ heist Wednesday night.
The rapper and his accomplice had an audience of roughly 6,000 at the Schottenstein Center under their jurisdiction, but the challenge was to captivate without simply holding the needle on a scratched record of that little tune dedicated to Goodwill and the likes.
Of course, the duo honored their Top-40 triad. Under their holdup, they reiterated that literally nothing (even the ceiling) “Can’t Hold Us,” all should be held under an identical right in “Same Love,” and your closet should only hold items from the “Thrift Shop.”
But even if audience members were solely attracted to Macklemore and Lewis’ concert through the gateway of the trinity, the two, who could be considered newbies to the hip-hop game, successfully made fans out of radio followers.
For one, the stage was set as a sort of hipster’s wooded paradise centered around Lewis’ DJ booth and a fake bear. Splattered with ironic shades of mint and gold, leaves and all the accoutrement one would find in an Urban Outfitters store, it was eye candy for the teens donning lensless Warby Parker’s, but genuinely charming — instead of annoyingly quirky — in its execution for anyone wearing different frames.
Additionally, Macklemore’s performance was a far cry in its musicality from his opening acts, Big K.R.I.T. and Talib Kweli, whose instruments of choice included a soundboard and a Mac computer. Of course, hip-hop is nothing without the use of synthesizers and accompanying beats, but Macklemore and Lewis added something with a viola and a cello on stage left and a trumpet, percussionist and trombone on stage right. The use of live instruments added a sort of glorious swag to songs like “Ten Thousand Hours” and “White Walls” but drew out the sincerity of “Starting Over” and “Wing$” as the instrumentalist slowly drew his bow along the neck of his viola.
Beyond the forestry and orchestral glory of Macklemore and Lewis’ backdrop, though, the magic of the performance lied in the rapper’s dialogues with the audience. Instead of quick transitions between songs to avoid acknowledging what lies beyond the fourth wall, Macklemore engaged with Columbus beyond the typical “OH-IO” chant. He spared no time between each and every song thanking his fans and revealing inspiration for his music. In one particular instance, he detailed his battle with addiction to alcohol and drugs, rehab and relapse before performing “Otherside” a cappella.
After an 11-song set and a three-song encore, Macklemore and Lewis left the stage and concluded their stick-up with their hands up.
An earlier version of this story stated that Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performed at Nationwide Arena on Nov. 6. In fact, the duo performed at the Schottenstein Center.