(Mac Miller's homecoming concert in Pittsburgh)
By Rob Markman
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-- Who says you can't go back home?
It's been a long journey for Pittsburgh's Mac Miller who started his rap career while in high school, pushing mixtapes and performing in quaint local venues like the Shadow Lounge. But on Friday night (December 9) Miller, who spent years in his native city trying to find his voice, returned to his hometown a hero performing the first of two tour-closing shows at the Burgh's Stage AE venue.
These last two stops on Mac's Blue Slide Park have been sold-out for months and the fans who formed a line around the venue hours before show time couldn't be more excited. They welcomed opening acts like the Come Up Boys, Cassie Veggies and Pac Div with cheers and steady applause, but shortly after 9:30 a.m. ET, with the house lights low and the stage curtains down, the teenaged crowd began to grow restless chanting, "We want Mac, we want Mac." And Mac is what they got.
The 19-year-old MC began, with the curtains still down, rapping his opening verse to his happy-go-lucky "Best Day Ever" before his faithful fans took over singing the song's hook; "Life couldn't get better, this gonna be the best day ever."
The curtains go up and Miller appears sitting on a faux-park bench which was surrounded by two street lamps and a DJ booth disguised as an ice cream cart. With his show, the Most Dope captain recreated his favorite childhood hang-out, blue slide park. Ever the ball of energy Miller turned things up with the aptly-titled "Get Up," but after, he stopped to speak to address his throng of supporters. "I been waiting a long time to say this sh--," he said. "Yo Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania what the f--k is good?"
This show meant more than any other concert he's ever performed Miller told the crowd before launching into the Al B. Sure-sampling "Ride Around" and then the energetic "Don't Mind If I Do." Clearly in his zone the usually-smiling rap youngster threw a middle finger to his critics who chastise him for "only" rapping about "girls, weed and alcohol."
"What the f--k is wrong with girls, weed and alcohol," Mac questioned while Stage AE's party animals screamed at the top of their lungs in support.
Miller kept the energy up rocking "The Spins," "Senior Skip Day," "Knock, Knock" and "Kool-Aid & Frozen Pizza," all from his 2010 breakout mixtape K.I.D.S. (Kickin' Incredibly Dope Sh--). Following a short interlude where the young fans dance to A Tribe Called Quest's "Check the Rhime," a song way beyond their years, Miller returned to the stage with a white guitar playing the even more vintage "Just A Friend" by Biz Markie. Purists who bash Easy Mac for his new-age approach to rap would've been surprised to say the youthful crowd singing the 1989 hip-hop classic word-for-word.
Miller went on for over an hour, ping-ponging across stage, jumping up an down, rapping rapid fire acapella verses and sometimes stopping the music to talk to the crowd. It was quite the performance, but it wasn't all just fun and games. Before the concert's final segment Miller completely stopped the concert and donated $50,000 to the Make-A-Wish foundation, a promise that he made to his fans if they made his #1 Blue Slide Park album a success.
Beyond that there was literally no letdown and Miller finished up strong performing the dance-inducing "Party on Fifth Ave," "Under the Weather" and "My Team." After performing "Frick Park Market," Mac tried to run off stage for a fake-out, but the crowd wasn't buying it. There would be an encore.
As the crowd stood there, arms folded, ready for a true closing number, DJ Clockwork returned to his station. "If y'all want one more song make some noise," he said. And of course they did.
The sped-up, chipmunk sounding opening loop of "Donald Trump" filled Stage AE to the approval of the sold-out venue. Mac Miller flew back on stage rapping, "Yeah the flyest motherf---er in the room yes you know it's me/ B---hes hated on him 'cause he started out here locally."
And now, who would've thought Mac would be accepted globally? Still, despite all of his new found success, for Mac Miller there is still no place like home.