4:02pm PT by Jenevieve Ting
Mac Miller and Friends Pack L.A.'s Palladium for Space Migration Tour
“You are about to begin a journey into the cosmos,” echoed a voice that sounds like it came straight out of a 1930s Orson Welles radio broadcast, as rich fuchsia- and magenta-colored hues blanketed a packed and anxious crowd at Hollywood landmark the Palladium on Wednesday night. In line with the cosmic theme, 21-year-old rapper Mac Miller skyrocketed onto the stage to ensure devoted fans and skeptics alike that this performance would be anything but spacey.
Focused, raw, unapologetic and in control, the Pittsburgh native proved he’s come a long way since his K.I.D.S. mixtape, which achieved notoriety in 2010. In fact, Miller, who has recently been generating pop music buzz for his chart-topping single“The Way” with Ariana Grande, mostly stuck to his hip-hop roots for the performance, another sold-out stop of the headliner’s Space Migration Tour.
But Miller wasn't the only draw for hip-hop aficionados: New York-bred rapper Action Bronson impressed with the unencumbered free verse rhyming of Flushing, Queens, while the musical stylings of Chicago -- and XXL Magazine 2013 Freshman Class nominee -- Chance The Rapper, now 20 years old, was a real treat for attendees, especially when Childish Gambino (aka Donald Glover) took the stage as a surprise performer to co-spit the final lines of their “Favorite Song.” Donning a T-shirt with the all-caps mantra, “Don’t Even Trip,” Chance might have discovered his audience had more than a little difficulty doing so. The rapper has been experiencing a dizzying ascent to the near top of the rap game since the debut of his second mixtape, Acid Rap, best witnessed when chants for Chance echoed off of the Palladium’s storied walls.
If the bass got too heavy -- the type of deep reverb that makes your nose itch and your vision blur -- audience members could slow jam and groove to the down tempo R&B of show-openers The Internet. The product of Odd Future’s Syd Tha Kyd and long-time collaborator Matt Martians, the trip-hop group provided a funky appetizer for the packed crowd to warm up to, with catchy neo-soul-infused numbers like “Cocaine” and “Fastlane” that you wish you knew how to not give in to.
Though the Supreme and Undefeated-label bearing fans might have paid for an auditory feast of purely hip-hop-laden tracks, Mac Miller seemed more than ready to prove his versatility as a performer under the shimmering disco-ball refracted lights of the Hollywood venue.
Opting for an electric guitar midway through his set, the self-taught musician surprised listeners with a Jack White-esque aptitude for the Fender. Strumming to the lyrics of one of his early numbers, “Best Day Ever,” the rapper had the entire crowd singing along and admiring his fast fingers. Never one for the predictable, Miller later riffed on the guitar behind his head, only to follow with a brief hard rock and rap-imbued rendition of the intro to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
He paused to tie his shoelaces and confess, “It’s been a weird year for me.”
The knowing crowd -- most of which had no doubt heard songs off of his newest album, Watching Movies with the Sound Off, a noticeable departure from his prior discography -- waited in earnest.
“People have been saying, ‘What happened to Mac, man?’ He used to be so nice. I guess it must be the drugs,” the rapper effortlessly transitioned as Action Bronson took to the stage again to join him on “Red Dot Music.”
At the request of his fans - some of whom looked no older than the 14-year-old Mac did when he humbly began his rap career in 2006 -- he proudly performed classics like “Kool-Aid and Frozen Pizza” and “Nikes on My Feet.”
Though the night belonged to the headliner and his signature hard-hitting bass lines, attendees were stuffed to the brim with sonic surprises that ranged from a stripped down version of “Youforia” -- played behind the keyboard with a single spotlight under the venue’s dimly lit chandeliers in the hazy Hollywood atmosphere -- to yet another surprise onstage when Odd Future chieftain Tyler, The Creator stunned the crowd by catapulting onto the scene for “O.K.”
Despite being spotted skateboarding alongside the line of fans that wrapped around the Palladium’s exterior earlier in the night, rapper Earl Sweatshirt – who has performed at other stops throughout the tour -- wasn’t the OF surprise fans were expecting.
Miller closed the night with a final display of his musical prowess with an ovation-worthy drum solo following his platinum single, “Donald Trump.” The finale left everyone in attendance, from the pit to the rafters, wondering what their preconceived notions of the artist could have possibly been.
Although he might be encouraging his fans to watch Movies with the Sound Off, Mac fanatics need not be reminded to turn these beats all the way up.