The ceiling can't hold them: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis rock the Carrier Dome

Review: Hip-hop masters Macklemore & Ryan Lewis brought all the intimacy of a club show and all the theatrics of an arena concert to Syracuse on Monday.

Coursing with chatter, the people waiting to enter the Carrier Dome were wondering if the freshly famous rap duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis would be as captivating live as they were on their viral singles and kitschy thrift store music video.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are the Barnum & Bailey of hip-hop, and the Dome was their big top Monday night. They arrived with a caravan of musicians, oddballs and friends. And by the time their set was done, no one thought it ever was going to end.

But before the Mack and Ryan circus came on stage, the audience was treated to two impressive and dynamic opening acts.

First into the trenches to warm up the Dome was Mississippi-raised rapper Big K.R.I.T., who served up a hot plate of Southern comfort. The rapper delivered a flurry of songs with a thick bass line and a razor blade-sharp lyrical delivery. Big K.R.I.T. took the audience to church with a classic call and response. But instead of hallelujahs and amens, the wordsmith offered up f--- you’s and middle fingers that an amped audience returned with interest.Big K.R.I.T.

If Big K.R.I.T. took Syracuse to church, then the elder statesman of the evening, Brooklyn’s Talib Kweli, took them to school. An articulate and seasoned artist, Kweli weaved his socially conscious lyrics with samples and allusions to artists like Eric B. & Rakim, Fleetwood Mac and The Beatles. Even though most of the audience didn’t seem to be familiar with Kweli’s music, his set was a nice balance for the predominately mainstream hip-hop sound of the concert.

The main fumble of evening came just before Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ set. Whatever the technical malfunction was behind the scenes, there was an extended break dominated by roadies scurrying in front of and behind the stage in attempts to fix something. But as the soon as the pair’s massive black and white flag -- a fusion of a pirate and American flag for their breakthrough independent album The Heist - unfurled, the audience launched into a rebellious and feel-good high.

And just like their hit song, the ceiling of the Dome couldn’t even hold them.

Donning a blazing orange Syracuse University basketball jersey with his name etched above the number five, Macklemore performed with an earnestness and joy as if Syracuse were his hometown. Between each bombastic performance, the Seattle-based rapper almost acted like a cool uncle, using each break for jokes, conversation and stories as if he were in a much more intimate venue.

Talib Kwelli performs before Macklemore on Monday night at the Carrier Dome. ABOVE: Big K.R.I.T took the stage as an opening act for Macklemore. (Photo: AJ Senaydin)(Photos: AJ Senaydin)

And that’s what has made Macklemore & Ryan Lewis rocket to the top of the charts. The Heist is a personal diary of a friendly man who exposes his former vices, faults and childlike joys wrapped up in catchy hooks and production. No matter if it was the explosive hits (“Thrift Shop,” “Can’t Hold Us”) or the civic-minded parables (“Same Love,” “Wing$”), the audience reacted like a mass of euphoric candles: bright flames glistening in the darkness of the Dome completely under Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ control.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and their cohort, including the talented singers Mary Lambert, Ray Dalton and the trumpeter Owuor Arunga, relished the tangible ecstasy of the crowd and performed three encore songs, including a repeat of “Can’t Hold Us.”

As the group left the stage and the crowd exited into the snowy Syracuse evening, every attendee burned through the frigid nighttime fresh with musical promise provided by these hip-hop ringleaders.

Ryan Lewis performs during Macklemore at the Carrier Dome. (Photo: AJ Senaydin)




Post new comment

* Field must be completed for your comment to appear on The NewsHouse
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.