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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Macklemore’s concert brought me back to the ‘Good Old Days’

On the first stop of his “The Ben Tour,” Macklemore performed both throwbacks and new favorites at the Ryman.
Sara West
Macklemore holds up his arm in front of a picture of the crowd depicted on an LED screen behind him, as photographed on Sept. 17, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Sara West)

I don’t have very detailed long-term memory, but I do remember the first time I ever heard a Macklemore song. Picture this: It’s a crisp fall day in 2012, and my dad and I are driving to a high school football game. A nine-year old Jorie is rocking some yoga pants and Ugg boots — the uniform of 2012 — and “Thrift Shop” comes on the radio. Needless to say, a core memory was immediately made. The funky beat and detailed rap made me think it was a throwback song from the 1970s, but the DJ introduced the song from a guy named “Macklemore.” Eleven years later, I heard the song live in the Mother Church — minus the yoga pants and Ugg boots. 

I can’t claim to be the biggest Macklemore fan. I associate “Can’t Hold Us” with high school prom and the one social event I attend per year. The only other songs I knew by him off the top of my head were “Thrift Shop” and “Downtown.” I saw some TikToks of Macklemore concerts from this summer, though, and the energy in the videos was through the roof. My favorite artists are Noah Kahan, Taylor Swift and Hozier, so Macklemore is definitely out of my comfort zone. But his concert in Nashville on Sept. 17 earned him a few spots in my Spotify rotations. 

The show kicked off with “CHANT,” the opening song on his newest album “BEN.” This song made the concert feel like a rollercoaster — I could feel the energy building up a big hill, anxiously awaiting the top to fly through the rest of the track. The backing of this song was smooth and calm, but Macklemore’s rap throughout and constant clapping beat means you can’t help but clap and stomp along. 

After “CHANT,” Macklemore took some time to address the crowd, noting how special it was to kick off his North American tour in such an iconic venue like the Ryman. 

“There is a lot of history in this building. I don’t really know much more, but I know it is historic,” Macklemore said. “Nashville is a music city and I am happy to be a part of it.” 

The next song was something I have been waiting 11 years to hear; my most anticipated song of the night. Macklemore explained that, in order to enjoy the present, sometimes we need to go to the past. I immediately knew that “Thrift Shop” was next. The crowd erupted in screams and didn’t stop the rest of the night. Even though we were in a former church on a Sunday night, his performance turned the rest of the night into a giant party. Macklemore effortlessly performed every verse, and the chorus was performed by his DJ and band, with support from the audience, of course. 

For the opening two songs, Macklemore sported a denim vest with vintage patches. He explained that he spent yesterday at various thrift stores in Nashville and found that very vest, although he is not as comfortable in a thrift shop as he was when he first released the song. 

“There’s not many environments I feel uncomfortable in,” Macklemore said. “But being in a thrift shop is just weird now.” 

The party continued with “NO BAD DAYS,” and the energy in the room continued to rise with this upbeat bop. Throughout the song, Macklemore had a water gun and sprayed the crowd, which gave major spring break vibes. Although his songs are generally upbeat and describe a high-energy and party environment, “NO BAD DAYS” and several of the songs to come have a message of self-love and not letting others bring you down. 

With the current political climate and attacks targeted at the LGBTQ+ community in Tennessee, I was so happy he performed “Same Love” in the heart of Nashville. The song tells about the hate that people overcome just to be their true selves and how even laws will never change people’s identities. I felt the messaging and power in my soul and cried along with everyone in the audience. My favorite line is “A world so hateful, some would rather die than be who they are / And a certificate on paper isn’t gonna solve it all.” In addition to the timeless message, “Same Love” is a beautiful song with smooth vocals and jazzy trumpets and drums in the background. 

Macklemore continued with songs “I NEED,” “1984” and “Otherside,” which kept the neverending party going. Although I was hearing these songs for the first time, the energy from Macklemore and the crowd bounced off each other providing me a chance to participate as well. Out of these three, “1984” was my favorite because it was so upbeat and reminded me of something I would dance to in “Just Dance” with my elementary school friends. 

Eventually, the party came to a pretend end when Macklemore bowed and left the stage to prepare for the encore. He came back out in a blue, sparkly cape to perform “And We Danced.” If the entire night didn’t send us back in time to the 2010s, this song definitely did. My mind played all of the “Just Dance” sessions, music videos and laughs with friends from my childhood. Macklemore bounced around the stage in his crazy costume and allowed the audience to have a “really, really, really good time.” 

Earlier in the night, I was wondering if Macklemore was going to bring any special guests, as many of his songs are collaborations. Never in my wildest dreams did I think Kesha would grace the Ryman stage and perform “Good Old Days.” The simplest song of the night was hands down my favorite, as it was just Kesha and Macklemore singing the duet with no extravagant costumes or dance moves. When I saw her, chills rushed down my body and I sang along with tears bubbled in my eyes. The song speaks for itself: simple, classic, timeless. The message pulls at the heartstrings of every nostalgic and homesick audience member with the line “I wish somebody would have told me, babe / Someday, these will be the good old days.” Although I miss the little girl who choreographed dances to Kesha songs in the backyard on mild summer nights, I am so thankful for the opportunity to reflect on 11 years of memories in the presence of two pop legends. 

The never-ending party in the Ryman couldn’t stop until Macklemore performed “Can’t Hold Us,” which was thankfully his last song of the night. Macklemore had one parting line for the crowd before his ending and most anticipated song of the night. 

“It may be a Sunday night, but I’m going to need everyone up and dancing right now,” Macklemore said. 

There were points in “Can’t Hold Us” that I really thought the auditorium was going to fall apart as the crowd was jumping and stomping along. I looked down from the balcony to see Macklemore crowd surfing while simultaneously rapping every line as smoothly as in the recording. Needless to say, if this wasn’t the closing song, I would’ve expected about four more songs to keep the good vibes going. 

From nostalgia to his newest hits, Macklemore knows how to throw a party, even in country music’s most famous venue. This concert will be hard to top, and I expect each stop on “The Ben Tour” to have non-stop energy and nostalgic vibes. 

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About the Contributors
Jorie Fawcett
Jorie Fawcett, Senior Advisor
Jorie Fawcett ('25) is from Tiffin, Ohio, and studies secondary education and sociology in Peabody College. She previously served as Editor-in-Chief, Managing Editor and Life Editor. When not writing for The Hustler, you can find her teaching, reading or pretending to study at Local Java or Suzie's. You can reach her at [email protected].
Sara West
Sara West, Deputy Photography Editor
Sara West ('25) is majoring in psychology in the College of Arts and Science and human and organizational development in Peabody College. Sara loves going to concerts, thrifting and exploring new places. She was previously Deputy Photography Director and hopes to enter the music industry after graduating.  She can be reached at [email protected].
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Comments (4)

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8 months ago

Hi! I loved reading your review on the concert! I’m going to his show tomorrow in Boston and am super excited 😀 I was just curious if there are any openers and who they are? My boyfriend gets out of work late on Thursdays, so I’m trying to figure out timing and hoping not to miss too much of his set *fingers crossed* thanks!!

Sara West
7 months ago
Reply to  Kirsten

Hey Kirsten! I’m so sorry I just saw this, but I hope you were able to catch some of the opener’s set and that you enjoyed the show overall!

7 months ago
Reply to  Sara West

What time does Macklemore take the stage?

Sara West
7 months ago
Reply to  Mike

About an hour after showtime!