How LAF snatched Macklemore
Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Updated: Saturday, February 9, 2013 10:02
“He traveled to the U.S.A. to resurrect the recession-riddled dance floors of America,” a deep voice proclaims in the quirky music video for Macklemore’s “And We Danced.” “He can turn any brodown into a hoedown.” He might be talking about the Seattle-based rapper’s alter ego, Raven Bowie, but he may as well as be singing Macklemore’s praises.
Born under the name Ben Haggerty, the blond-coiffed hip hop breakout star has taken the music world by storm after the October 8, 2012 release of his hit song “Thrift Shop,” the fifth single off of his album The Heist.
The Lafayette Activites Forum managed to book him for the spring concert in November. From the sound of it, their timing was impeccable. “He’s really blown up since then,” Assistant Director of Student Life Programs Bob Dustin said. “We spent a fair amount of money on him. Not ridiculous money, but a fair amount. His current asking price is $35,000 more than what we got him for.”
According to Dustin and LAF co-president Plamena Georgieva ‘13, they had some competition in securing Macklemore for the spring concert. “We kind of stole Macklemore,” Dustin said with a wry smile. “He had an offer for a festival in Maryland. But we ended up finding exactly what the offer was, and we outbid them.”
Macklemore, however, was not LAF’s first choice. According to Georgieva, the primary option was the show tunes-sprinkled pop-rock band fun. , but touring conflicts prevented them from being booked. “Their tour was supposed to end in May,” the senior said. “But it was extended. After that, we couldn’t book them.” It might be better off this way. LAF sent a survey to Lafayette students asking which genre they would prefer for the spring concert, and the results were eclectic to say the least.
“The genre survey was basically tied,” Dustin said. “It was about 36 percent rock, 36 percent that wanted hip-hop, and then there was a large portion who wanted electronic.”
Macklemore may be known primarily for “Thrift Shop,” a poprap anthem for the financially strapped, an in-depth analysis of his discography reveals a genre-bending catalog. While his forte is certainly rap, he also has dabbled in dance/house with the aforementioned “And We Danced,” and recorded a rock-laced ode to his Irish heritage in “Irish Celebration.”
Dustin has had previous experience with Macklemore from his days working at the University of Washington, and can attest to the artist’s diversity. “He’s all over the place,” he said. “He dresses in weird costumes, then he’ll do something real serious, then he goes from completely off-the-wall weird to almost borderline rock. He puts on a good show.” LAF is trying to re-spark interest in the spring concert, which will be held on All College Day, and has suffered declining attendance numbers in the past few years. According to Georgieva and Dustin, the attendance for 2010’s Kid Cudi concert was between 4,500 and 5,000 people. Since then, however, the number has dropped to 2,800 for the 2009 Wale/K’naan/Sam Adams show and then to under 1,500 for last year’s mostly panned Hot Chelle Rae concert. Last year’s show can be partially attributed to the now infamous budget shortage on the part of Student Government.
“This year’s [budget] is more. It’s really no secret,” Dustin said. “Last year, Student Government attributed a certain amount of money to us, and there were budgeting issues. They had to take some of that money back.” This year’s budget is over $70,000, as opposed to last year’s, which was between $40,000 and $45,000. This year’s budget is partially allocated from All College Day funds usually reserved for ACD entertainment. The opener Timeflies, who are known for their popular “Timeflies Tuesdays” videos on YouTube, is “on the same [pay] scale as Hot Chelle Rae,” according to Dustin. “Last year, it was ‘here’s money, go find the most popular thing you can get,’” he said. “This year, we could try and find someone cool.”
“I think we got two pretty good acts,” Dustin added.