GULF SHORES, Alabama — Seattle rap duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis didn’t have the clearest view of the pristine white sandy beach during their Friday evening (May 17) headline set at the Hangout Festival.
But even though the Boom Boom Tent was a bit removed from the oceanside, they brought the good vibes to dry land with a super-hyped hour-long set that featured cameos from Mack’s spectacular mullet wig, a sea of giant inflatable dolphins and whales and a moving tribute to marriage equality.
Wearing a wool poncho, black jeans and a black tank top, Macklemore ran onto the stage to the booming strains of “10,000 Hours,” kicking off the pair’s first Alabama show with a thunderous roar. “How many white people are already sunburnt?” he asked the screaming, sweat-drenched crowd. “That’s 100 percent of the white people.”
Though he’s established a reputation as a sharp-dressed man, Macklemore then asked the audience if anyone had a fur coat he could borrow. Shockingly, given the day’s pea-soup mugginess, a gentleman in the crowd kindly offered up his printed fur jacket (and girlfriend). The rapper asked the female to step aside, but he proudly squeezed into the too-small “Alabama Cheetah” topcoat before pretending to leave the stage just three songs into the set.
The tease set up the earth-shaking first notes to the group’s titanic hit, “Thrift Shop,” which was greeted with an endless sea of digital cameras waving in the air. As he happily performed the song that put them on the map, Mack climbed aboard an inflatable whale and rode it out into the audience while confetti cannons shot multi-colored paper into the air.
The high point of the show, though, came during the marriage equality anthem “Same Love,” which Macklemore said was especially important to him because, “We are in a very special time in American history right now. In fact, I would say we are in the middle of the biggest civil rights movement of our generation.”
That last bit elicited a warm roar of approval and support from the fans, who showed the MC that they understood the importance of his message. “I don’t know how you feel, but me personally, I believe that no government, no state, no institution, no religion, no other human being can tell you who you love in your heart is right or wrong. That is up to you,” he continued.
“Finally in 2013 we are starting to have discussion and dialogue about the issue of marriage equality,” he said. “The fear and the hatred that has been passed on from generation to generation to generation is finally starting to cease and love is prevailing all over the world. I believe in tolerance, I believe in compassion and I believe in equality.”
When the song finally rolled out, it felt like going to church, with a majestic organ bubbling underneath and an enthusiastic sing-along to every word from the packed house.
With so many peaks already rolled out, the rapper warned the audience that “everything until now has been a warm-up,” as two backup dancers ripped it up on stage and the audience was bouncing to an extra hyped version of their second huge chart smasher, “Can’t Hold Us.”
The rib-rattling bass of “White Walls” gave way to the another emotional crowd-participation anthem, “Wing$.” The sky filled with inflatables for the springy “And We Danced,” as the road crew pushed more than 20 blow-up dolphins and whales into the throng and Macklemore got into the spirit by donning a long heavy metal mullet wig and silver and purple cape.
The set rumbled to a close with “Irish Celebration,” during which confetti cannons and fog machines filled the air and the screens around Ryan Lewis riser were lit up with a giant tri-color flag.
We’re live-streaming performances throughout the weekend on our official Hangout hub, bringing you interviews, behind-the-scenes access and on-demand performances from all your favorite artists on MTV.com, VH1.com, CMT.com and LogoTV.com. Highlights from Hangout 2013, which features sets from the Shins, Jim James, Bassnectar, the Roots, Imagine Dragons and Yeah Yeah Yeahs will also air on MTV, VH1, CMT, MTV2, MTV Hits, MTV Jams, VH1 Classic and Palladia.
MTV, VH1 and CMT will be on the ground at Hangout 2013, bringing you all the latest news, interviews, performances and more from the Shores. If you’re not able to be there, be sure to check in and watch live streaming performances all weekend.