By: Callie Harkins
On a stage adorned with pyrotechnics, water guns, and intricate lighting, Ben Haggerty – known musically as Macklemore – performed for a sold-out crowd at The Anthem in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Sept. 19.
The Anthem, which holds 6,000 and is located on the Wharf, hosted the two-time Grammy winner on the second night of the North American leg of his BEN tour. The setlist included classic hits like Thrift Shop and Can’t Hold Us and deeper cuts like Starting Over.
This concert was, without a doubt, one of the most fun gigs I have ever been to. I go to a lot of concerts – eight in September alone – and very few have come close in regards to the energy and incredible vibes that Ben brought to the stage. Even on a Tuesday night, in a city notorious for lacking a party atmosphere, Ben engaged the crowd for over an hour and a half of singing and dancing.
I purchased a general admission ticket for about $30, including fees, and took the train from Fredericksburg to Union Station in Washington, D.C., for $8. Compared to some of the other shows I have seen this year, I would consider this a relatively cheap concert experience, especially considering the acclaim Ben has received throughout his nearly 25-year career. Knowing now what good energy the show entails, I would honestly pay $100 to see him live again.
Before this, I would not even consider myself a huge Macklemore fan. I only knew the top hits and party tracks, but I felt he perfectly balanced the setlist to include fan favorites that I would know, like Same Love, and more niche titles, like those off his newest record, leaving me wanting to hear more. I never once felt awkward or out of place, even when I did not know a single word of the song that was playing.
Between each number, Ben interacted with the audience in a way I haven’t seen many bigger artists do. He shared stories about his life on tour, his career, and even his struggles with addiction. Just hours before the concert, he attended Mobilize Recovery’s national event summit as a panelist. Mobilize Recovery is an organization that works to support those in recovery and end overdose. As part of his involvement, he also hosted over 50 members from the organization at the sold-out show.
Ben’s honesty and ability to connect with what felt like every member of the audience made this an unforgettable experience. His excitement was palpable, and the crowd of 6,000 only fed off of his positive energy. My sole complaint was that he did not play my favorite song Downtown, but aside from that minor gripe, this could not have been a more enjoyable experience.
He has 11 shows in October and two in December. He will close out the BEN tour in his hometown, Seattle, Washington, on Dec. 22 in Climate Pledge Arena, which holds over 18,000 people.