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The black walls and raftered ceiling of The Hope was to be made the perfect venue for one of the USA's rising rap stars, Macklemore. As a primarily alternative venue, it may have come as quite a surprise booking, but a rather impressive one to say the least. As the crowd assembled, everyone prepared for a night of hip-hop, dancing, jumping and general havoc.
The night opened with Southampton MC Influx providing an entertaining set. For reasons unexplained, he’d been left without a DJ for his set, and with a member of Rum Com trying in vain to help matters as a stand in, it eventually led to Influx DJing his own set. A feat far more difficult that it sounds. The set had a few highlights, particularly his debut single ‘Days To Night’, a track thick with warbling bass and massive drops interlaced with emotive lyrics and his laid back flow. He decided to switch his set up a bit towards the end too, opting to replace his incredibly British and ‘So’ton Solent’ plugging take on Asher Roth’s ‘I Love College’ for a bassy dose of dubstep infused grime.
Rum Committee, Brighton’s local rap collective took the stage soon after, beers in hand, after filling their room with applause for Influx. Things were a little a less Odd Future and a bit more Green Street though with chants of ‘Boozetown’ filling their energetic set. The music was only half the show though. Their charisma and the inclusion of Rory, a huge tattooed soul singer with a beautiful voice that’s planning to try for X Factor next year, supposedly with a Shotgun, showed a group of lads comfortable performing to their local crowds. Combinations of varying flows and bars in switched around mid verse showed a collective how it’s meant to be, a unit.
Having travelled all the way from Seattle, Macklemore’s trip to the UK had been eagerly anticipated. By now the room had filled out with even more fans, ears still ringing from his performance at London’s XOYO the night before. Ever the entertainer, Macklemore didn’t hold back. First up was his critically acclaimed track ‘Otherside’ from his new ‘The VS’ EP. Needless to say, the crowd hung off his every word as he briefly explained the focus of the track, before exploding into a frenzy of bars, bass and obscure dance moves. The crowd responded in equal measure, for such a small group, people had managed to leave their apprehension at home and soon the Hope was full of eager fans leaping skywards to the beat.
For such an intimate crowd, the atmosphere was unbelievable, partly due to Ryan Lewis, Macklemore’s DJ and producer, regularly leaving his decks behind and jumping into the throng of the crowd, mic in hand. The frenzy came to a climax when Macklemore decided to grab himself a huge blonde wig and a cape for the sets penultimate track ‘And We Danced’. The costume was supposedly parodical of the superficiality of pop stars, but the crowd glossed over this cynicism and continued to worship the now amusingly dressed individual that dominated the stage. His set ended with a free T-shirt competition and manic performance of ‘Irish Celebration’, a song dedicated to his Irish heritage that’s charming use of Irish pipes to provide the beat have made it a firm fan favourite. Together they asked for the crowd to jump one last time for them. After one of the best live performances at the Hope for a very long time, they were only too happy to comply.
Date: Tuesday 25th October 2011