Packs of rowdy young hip-hop enthusiasts lined the sidewalks of Northampton on Saturday night to witness the performance of one of the fastest-rising rap stars on the scene. Mac Miller, having just kicked off “Blue Slide Park” tour to promote his debut album of the same name, was making a stop at Smith College’s John M. Greene Hall to visit some of his dedicated fans.
Miller and company made the most of the performing space, which seemed to be more suited for stage drama and musical theater than for a rap concert. Disappointed fans were confined to rows of seats, separating the audience members from one another. The setting made free movement to danceable hits like “Best Day Ever” frustratingly difficult.
After DJ Joey Franchise warmed up the crowd, Pittsburgh-based group The Come Up were the first doomed openers, taking the stage for a crowd who were eager to see Miller and no one else. Donning black shirts and snapbacks, the duo rocked the stage, displaying their lyrical tenacity corner to corner, but to no avail. Nearing the end of their six-song, approximately 20-minute long set, the audience seemed to be more interested in Mac Miller merchandise than in the performance on stage.
After a short intermission, Casey Veggies took the stage accompanied by a sidekick constantly shouting the word “swag.” Veggies was fresh off the release of his third solo mixtape, “Sleeping in Class.” He started off with his most successful song, “Ridin’ Round Town,” before getting into a few tracks from the new mixtape. Unfortunately, he suffered the same fate as his predecessors. The crowd began to get restless, voicing their dissatisfaction with boos and “we want Mac” chants.
Finally, the impatiently awaited moment came, and Miller entered the stage reciting lyrics from “Best Day Ever,” a track off his mixtape of the same name. Backed by a large image of what seemed to be a blue slide and his DJ on the turntables, the Pittsburgh prodigy pummeled the mic with songs from every corner of his catalog. He took the crowd on a trip “All Around The World” while “Ridin’ High” and introducing everyone to the “Nikes On My Feet.”
The energy hit a peak as Miller started some clever back-and-forth conversation with his DJ, resulting in him giving Miller a guitar. Miller sarcastically admitted that he didn’t know how to play it, and then astoundingly began strumming as he rapped “Another Night.”
Miller subsequently turned the beat back up, continuing to test the allegiance of his fans by playing songs off older mixtapes, like “Good Evening.” Still, he continued to mix in more familiar songs for newer fans by performing “Best Day Ever” in full. He then dropped the beat for an off-the-dome freestyle before getting back into it with “Wake Up” and “Down The Rabbit Hole.”
Miller unexpectedly brought it down a few notches with his song “Poppy,” named after his grandfather. He relayed the story of the only person that told him to go after his dreams but was never able to see him play a show before passing away.
Miller then brought it back up a few levels, daring the crowd to keep up with him while he danced to DMX’s “Party Up” and House of Pain’s “Jump Around” before playing “Knock Knock” and inviting the crowd to the “Frick Park Market” to indulge them with some “Kool Aid and Frozen Pizza.”
Miller brought the beat down one last time, asking the crowd to sing-along to the chorus of “Another Night” before the lights went out and he left the stage, leaving his fans to plead for his presence one last time.
He gladly obliged, returning to play “Donald Trump,” and ending the show with a quick freestyle as he bid farewell to his adoring fanbase.
Miller’s debut album, “Blue Slide Park,” hits store shelves Nov. 8th.
Stephen Hewitt can be reached at [email protected]