It’s the second day of Bumbershoot, you’re in Key Arena for the last headliner, Mac Miller. The lights go down and thousands of blunts get lit. The floor of the arena is an undulating mass of people, and the music hasn’t even started yet. Then out onto the stage comes twenty year-old Miller to a cheering packed room, and the music starts. Across the arena thousands of arms go up, obeying the first rule of hip hop: obey your emcee’s directions. By the second song the crowd is singing along, well, trying. (There were lots of silent moments when Miller turned the mic on the crowd, but in spirit they were with him.) Eventually it reaches a fever pitch where the arms on the floor of the arena look like an army of sea anemone tentacles in a violent current.
A few songs into the set Miller remarks that his opening act was Tony Bennett, saying it with equal amounts of bravado and respect.
The first single that Miller performed was his song â€˜Knock Knock,’ which features a sample from the song â€˜I’ve Told Ev’ry Little Star,’ made famous by Linda Scott. This version of the song was also featured prominently in the David Lynch film Mulholland Drive, which added a certain twist to the evening, and begged the question of if Miller saw the film when he was nine in 2001. Probably a reach, but a fun idea.
This show had many of the essential trappings of hip hop. In between songs there were video segments, probably to give Miller and his hype man a minute to catch their breath. Pretty theatrical, honestly. One of these segments was cut up scenes from a kung fu movie. (Kung fu, check.) Then some serious chest-shaking bass knocked made the air viscous. (Mega-bass, check.) Later on he gave a shout out to DJ Clockwork, his backing music, and Clockwork let the beat drop. It would have been a fine time to do a few scratch flourishes, but those were left out. (DJ Shout-out, check.)
Unoriginal as this observation might be, to overlook the fact that Mac Miller is as accomplished as he is only one year out of his teens would be irresponsible. Who knows, it could be that he’s the next Nas. Either way, he had the Bumbershoot crowd eating out of his hands, even if they didn’t know all the words.