It’s Macklemore’s world right now. You know that, right? The Capitol Hill rapper is super famous at the moment, with his songs “Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us” having blown up nationally, crossing over from kids to their parents, making him a household name. Every other person at Sasquatch! is a 22-year-old wearing a Macklemore “My City is Filthy” t-shirt. He’s Kurt Cobain famous.
And yet he was still grounded and adjusted enough on the Sasquatch! main stage to say stuff like:
“You have no idea how good it feels to be back home in the Pacific Northwest! I have been working my entire life to step on this stage right here at the Gorge.”
It’s true: he’s been working. What other local rapper had the work ethic to do a weekly night at the Kirkland Pub in the 2000s?
Star that he is, the crowning moment of his show belonged to Mary Lambert, singer of the chorus on gay marriage anthem “Same Love.” Lambert, who sings the chorus from the point of view of a person being warmly held by their girlfriend, sang with much emotion. And she lent extra oomf to Macklemore’s lyrics, which criticize homophobic religious organizations, repeating the phrase “not crying on Sundays.”
The jumbo screens on either side of the main stage shows showed pained and sincere expressions on performers’ faces. The massive crowd quieted down a bit, seemingly taking stock.
Macklemore began his set on a podium that rose out of the main stage floor, wearing a ridiculous gold bathrobe and hoisting a black and gold flag (I told you he has a thing about flags). He promptly got into “10,000 Hours,” a song that details his years of dealing with the music business and struggling to maintain artistic integrity. For those in the crowd who knew him when he was a merely a big part of our local scene, and not a Pop Star (Pac NW fans went through this with Cobain, and later Isaac Brock and Ben Gibbard), a moment was felt.
Because really, it’s been an insane year for the guy.
Here’s a bold statement we can argue about on twitter if you want: Vampire Weekend is the only indie rock band that’s actually good right now, you can throw away the rest of the genre, it’s lame, it’s dead, it’s over.
All other indie rock bands now sound like middle class people doing old timey music, i.e. Lumineers and Mumford, which is SO boring, or they sound like retreads of ‘90s indie rock, which is when it was a new and vital artistic force.
Anyway the New York City band sounded perfect on the Bigfoot stage, plucking out their peppy pop rock that, yes, sounds a lot like Paul Simon, but that’s OK. [EDIT 5/26: I feel I must mention that Vampire Weekend also sounds like robots, incorporates a certain clean cut take on punk rock, and channels hip-hop in a knowing way — the band doesn’t JUST sound like Paul Simon.] One highlight was “Unbelievers,” from the brand new album “Modern Vampires of the City,” which coasted on classical guitar strumming and a driving bass drum.
The song is about what happens when we die (the whole album is). But the crowd was full of party people who will live forever, so they just responded to the airtight songwriting. And that was good enough. You can get into Vampire Weekend on several levels.