Macklemore Concert and the Future of Seattle Music

December 22, 2017

SEATTLE, WA  “Ain’t Gonna Die Tonight,” the title of Macklemore’s opening song at his first of two sold out shows in Key Arena could also be a fitting mantra for Seattle’s music scene. For a city that produced iconic performers such as Jimi Hendrix, Heart, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and more, it is natural to assume Seattle’s best music days are behind it. However, the voices you will soon hear in season four of Seattle Growth Podcast make it clear that Seattle’s music scene ain’t gonna die tonight, tomorrow, or any time soon. Macklemore’s concert was an apt demonstration of reasons for optimism about a bright future.


Music fans flocked to Seattle Center’s Key Arena to see Seattle’s own Ben Haggerty, aka Macklemore, come home to conclude his national Gemini tour. He thanked the crowd for leaving their homes to come together and enjoy live music. “At the core, this is what humanity looks like. This is what community looks like,” Macklemore told the crowd.


The audience was there to see Macklemore perform their favorite songs and he did not disappoint. Performing for roughly two hours, it appeared as if he relished every moment in front of his hometown crowd. He spoke of his independently produced album, Gemini, and thanked the people of Seattle for its success. “Because of the foundation here in Seattle, Washington, that album went to number one on the hip hop charts,” Macklemore shared.


Macklemore not only entertained the crowd with his familiar tunes, he introduced them to a crop of rising stars who hail from Seattle. Not only did the headline performance weave in local artists such as Dave B, John Sinclair, Wanz, and long-time collaborator Josh “Budo” Karp,  Macklemore’s spotlight was also cast on locals who opened the concert. As XP, Travis Thompson, and Sol successively took the stage, they expressed their gratitude for the opportunity and gave an indication that something special was happening.


Most of the audience stayed seated as “the unofficial Mayor of White Center” Travis Thompson began his set. He started rapping songs unfamiliar to many of the people who were on their cell phones visibly checking out Macklemore’s Instagram feed. He soon won over audience members who began to wave their hands and clap along to his music. At least one fan switched from looking at Macklemore’s social media to looking up more information about the 21-year-old performer on stage. Performing in a sold-out Key Arena, Thompson told the crowd was “the greatest moment of my life.” Based on his ability to win over the audience, there will likely be many more music lovers looking up information on Travis Thompson in the future.


Sol, who also hails from Seattle, spoke of building a legacy for the city’s hip-hop community. Before the concert, Sol tweeted, “Soundcheck for the biggest show of my career.” His opportunity to perform for the arena crowd lasted roughly 25 minutes. He worked up the audience during his time on stage, prompting cell phone lights to shine throughout the venue during one of his songs. The crowd cheered enthusiastically when he credited them for selling out Key Arena for independent hip-hop two nights in a row.


Tonight’s ensemble of performers signaled that Seattle’s independent hip-hop community is ready to be on the big stage. The concert featured an established headliner and emerging artists working together with a foundation of music lovers in Seattle to prove that the Seattle music scene ain’t gonna die tonight.


This Seattle music scene will be the focus of an in-depth look in the fourth season of Seattle Growth Podcast. With the influx of people and money, Seattle is changing rapidly and the music community is changing along with it. In the podcast, established and emerging artists, music lovers, and music industry leaders will share their diverse perspectives on the past, present, and future of the Seattle music scene. Like the audience at the Macklemore concert, Seattle Growth Podcast listeners will have an opportunity to get to know the interesting musicians who call Seattle home and who may one day headline a sold-out arena show as Macklemore did (two nights in a row). The concert highlighted the growing legacy of Seattle music artists and the voices of Seattle Growth Podcast will give insight into how that legacy will be carried forward in the future.

Seattle Growth Podcast is available free on iTunes.

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