Mac Miller and the Space Migration Tour at Festival Pier

July 17, 2013 -

Hill Coulson

The first time I saw Mac Miller perform live was about five years ago in the corner of the Taylor Allderdice High School lunchroom. Back then, he went by the name EZ Mac, and his goofy yet self-assured double-time flow was a highlight of our school’s weekly lunchtime cyphers. I even remember him peddling one of his first mixtapes, How High, around the cafeteria, wearing an oversized white tee, advertising: “$5 a CD”. Since then, Mac Miller has done more than enough to earn his stripes in the entertainment industry. From independently releasing a #1 charting album on Billboard, to scoring his own reality TV show on MTV2, to touring around the world more than a couple of times, Mac’s hustle is undeniable. And his live show has come a long way from freestyling to a barebones beat on a dirty lunchroom table. The latest iteration is the Space Migration Tour, a trippy blend of lights, live instrumentation, and hip-hop, that complements last month’s release of Watching Movies With the Sound Off, Mac Miller’s sophomore album. Following up last summer’s co-billing act with Wiz Khalifa, this tour finds Mac with more creative control; the handpicked line-up of Earl Sweatshirt, Action Bronson, Chance the Rapper, and so on reads like a who’s who of buzzing hip-hop acts in the past year. I caught the Philadelphia stop of the tour at Festival Pier last Saturday.

GGs view blog

The show started off around 5 PM when LA rapper Vince Staples took the stage in the sweltering heat. I was lucky enough to watch from the air-conditioned tent in GG’s Lounge at Festival Pier, which not only gave an unmatched view of the stage but had its own private bathroom, bar, and leather couches, among other amenities. Surprisingly, Vince only performed for about fifteen minutes, leaving much more to be desired. I’m not sure if it was a scheduling error or if he just wasn’t feeling it, but c’mon man, put on a show for the people. Next up was The Internet, a new school neo-soul outfit featuring Odd Future affiliates Syd the Kyd on the vocals, Matt Martians on the keys, and three other members filling out the rest of the band. “Feel free to just vibe out,” Syd told the audience. And with the sultry, R&B-laced set of jams they performed, that’s exactly what we did.

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When Chance the Rapper came on, so did the rain which sent less adventurous concertgoers inside the tent, while the more initiated fans braved the storm to catch this buzzing artist on his first proper tour across the country. Chance performed some choice cuts from his critically acclaimed mixtape Acid Rap as well songs from his first tape 10 Day, and although the heavy downpour did divert some attention away from the show, a few dozen dedicated fans remained in the front row rapping and singing along to the music. I can easily see Chance the Rapper headlining the same stage in a year or two; look out for his name to pop up a lot more in the near future.

Meek Mill

Hometown hero Meek Mill was the special co-headliner for the Philadelphia stop of the Space Migration Tour, and he gave us an entertaining, though uninspired, performance. A large chunk of his set was dedicated to Lil Snupe, a promising young protege on Meek’s Dreamchasers label who recently made the headlines for his untimely death during a violent dispute. After his tribute to the fallen soldier, Meek introduced his son to the crowd and pulled girls on stage to twerk which was all good fun, but after a while I found myself wondering if he was just stalling to make up for lack of planned material. Nevertheless, his hit songs like “I’m a Boss,” “Burn,” and “Believe It” went off in a BIG way and gave Festival Pier’s stacked amps a sonic workout as the sun set in the early evening.

mac miller guitar

Finally, after a break between sets, Mac Miller’s voice rang out across Festival Pier in the darkness: “His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy...” A few more moments of pitch black passed by when suddenly the stage exploded into a swirl of lights and music. What followed was the best live performance from Mac Miller that I’ve seen to date. Not only was the technical production on some next level rock star type shit, but I could tell that Mac had carefully planned out and rehearsed every aspect of his set. Accompanied by a live band, he opened with a slew of songs off his new album which translated great into a concert setting. A highlight of the show was his live jazz rendition of lead single “S.D.S.” along with “Objects in the Mirror,” which featured an encore performance from The Internet. Even more impressive was when Mac himself picked up the guitar and shredded to his own songs. Finally, at the end of the set, he took to a gorgeous sounding Rhodes synthesizer to serenade the audience and close out the show, but not before performing his smash hit “Donald Trump”.

All in all, whether he was straight rapping at the enraptured crowd or showing off his other talents, Mac Miller displayed evident growth in his ability to put on a professional and highly entertaining show. Two thumbs up. Special thanks to GG’s Lounge at Festival Pier for working with us at the Daily Beat, and making the concert experience that much better. Be on the look out on our site for ticket giveaways from GG’s to your favorite acts at Festival Pier this summer!

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