Photos of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis at Red Rocks - Reverb

Photos of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis at Red Rocks’ Winter on the Rocks 2013 (review)

By Erik Myers

This year’s Winter on the Rocks went well, with a strong opening from The Grouch & Eligh and an amazing set from Major Lazer, but neither pleased the crowd at this year’s Winter on the Rocks as much as the evening’s main act, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

As seen in the sloshed 20-somethings freestyling in the stands after the show, Macklemore has had a special impact on his young audience since his first full-length, “The Heist,” topped iTunes in its first week last October. Few, if any, conscientious rappers draw crowds as young and drunk as witnessed at Red Rocks on Friday night. But whether he was inspiring thoughtful new perspectives or just a generation of sloppy copycats weighed heavily on my mind.

The Seattle front man was properly attired for the triumphant opener “Ten Thousand Hours,” coming onstage wearing a leopard print jacket vest with a white fur trim. But it was quickly ditched. “I never dreamed we would’ve been headlining a sold-out show,” he remarked, the first of many modest statements. “…but what I really want is a full fur jacket.”

This gesture to his hit “Thrift Shop” was well-received. Given the temperatures in the 30s, it was no surprise when out from the throng a coat was produced. The sleeves were a little short on the him, but the king was pleased. “This thing smells terrible, but it’s so fresh,” he said, before Lewis and trumpet player Owuor Arunga fired into the track’s jazz-tinged beat.

This was the evening’s apex for an obnoxious crowd, as Macklemore proceeded into his more somber material. When it came time for “Same Love,” I couldn’t help but wonder how many teenagers here were growing up in Frank McNulty households, and how many of them were being subverted right there in Red Rocks. The performance was a meaningful moment in what was otherwise a loud stupid party.

Major Lazer, for one, is not concerned with politics, but happy to use it as a means to an end. Midway through an excellent set, one of the dancers, wearing a Rastafarian beanie and tan camo jacket, marched to center stage waving the flag of the group’s eponymous cartoon avatar. It was a freaky, fascistic display, especially with the crowd obeying each and every cue: first waving hands, then an article of clothing. Lazer then invited group of young women to do the “Express Yourself” dance, but none were familiar.

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Electronic blogger Erik Myers is a Denver-based writer and new contributor to Reverb. Follow him on Twitter.

Glenn Ross is a Denver-based photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. See more of his work here.