This week Macklemore and Ryan Lewis played to 50,000 fans over three nights at KeyArena. Just hours later, they flew to New York to play Madison Square Garden Friday.
But on Saturday they were back in Seattle playing a benefit for Children’s Hospital at the Showbox. It was the smallest venue they’ve played in many months, but as the final performance of a transformative year, it was also their most special.
They appeared after the crowd had already seen stellar performances from Shelby Earl, the Lonely Forest, Helio Sequence and Allen Stone. Macklemore burst onstage with an energetic “Thrift Shop,” the Showbox stage barely able to hold his eight-piece dancing ensemble.
He played just four songs, a fourth of his KeyArena set, but they were winners. Stripped of the fireworks and light show, Macklemore made it intimate and local. You can bet that in Madison Square Garden, he did not introduce Michael “Wanz” Wansley to the crowd as “the King of Shoreline.”
Every Macklemore performance mixes party, revival meeting and sermon. His Showbox show was all of that and more, plus a night for a great charity.
“This is my favorite room in the world to play,” he said. “This is my favorite city, and this is my favorite benefit.”
Organized by Pete and Brandy Nordstrom, this was the second year for the Seattle Musician’s for Children’s Hospital (SMooCH) event. The night raised $334,000.
Between a moving “Same Love” and a playful “White Walls,” Macklemore said he couldn’t play most of the benefits he’s asked, even for causes he supports. Still, he said, “Children’s is at the top of my list.”
He ended the night by stage diving during “Can’t Hold Us.” It was the first stage dive Macklemore has ever done — or maybe anyone has ever done — holding a toddler. The girl, a daughter of one of his dancers, emerged delighted, and it was a picture-perfect moment to cap an epic year.
Macklemore’s ascent has been unparalleled. But Saturday night he proved why his effusive personality seems unchanged, and unguarded.
The after-party, he announced, would be at Seattle’s most proletarian joint, Dick’s Drive-In. And he wasn’t treating; instead his fans would have one last chance this year to show him their appreciation.
In a year where he’d given the city something to be excited about, he was now ready to take that same love back.
“We’ll be eating all the burgers you’ll buy for us,” Macklemore said as he left the stage.
There’s only one city in the world where this could have happened. It was a night for the Seattle history books.