Home / Concert Reviews / Mac Miller w/ Hot Chelle Rae and Kreayshawn @ Eagles Ballroom
Monday, Dec. 19, 2011

Mac Miller w/ Hot Chelle Rae and Kreayshawn @ Eagles Ballroom

Dec. 17, 2011

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Can an M.C. who willfully shuns higher education make frat rap? For Mac Miller, whose primary attractions to collegiate life are easier access to marijuana, alcohol and sorority sisters, the point becomes, ahem, academic.

Milwaukee's 103.7 KISS-FM seems to be one of the few commercial stations in the United States giving play to Miller's odes to extended, hedonistic adolescence, so it's no great surprise that he topped its annual "Kissmas" concert—and packed the Eagles Ballroom to the point where more than one person risked being trampled by the onrush of fans moving toward the stage.

Was it worth the feeling of being a human sardine? Considering the number of Miller's T-shirts adorning fans' torsos and the way many of them shouted along to their man's rhymes, the answer was "yes" for much of the crowd. Miller embodies a lifestyle many in attendance seem to aspire to attain or already practice. The skunk-spray stench pervading the air during Miller's generous set evinced the unhindered use of his favorite recreational herb, at least.

And though late in his set the headliner brought out his guitar for some hip-hop-informed singing, a la Lil Wayne, and touchingly paid tribute to his grandfather, who died before he could see Miller achieve his mostly Internet-fueled stardom, unless you buy into his inebriated, promiscuous vision, there's little to recommend Miller's artistry to the serious rap fan.

Yes, his taste in samples does show some imagination and humor. Looping Sufjan Stevens on his YouTube smash "Donald Trump" and borrowing the nonsense syllable hook from Linda Scott's early-'60s hit "I've Told Every Little Star" for his current KISS-FM chart topper, "Knock Knock," show an eclectic breadth of pop appreciation. But then, inevitably, he starts rapping his tired booze-and-blunts shtick in his yelping whine of a voice.

Opening act Kreayshawn may be all about flouting brand names on her biggest single so far, "Gucci Gucci," but there's a detached air to her persona and delivery that belies those sentiments. Elsewhere in her four numbers, shout-outs to Amy Winehouse and Courtney Love teetered on the line separating the obvious and the brilliant, and what sounded like a profession of avaricious bisexuality fit the evening's bacchanalia spirit. At heart, Kreayshawn sounds like a logical extension of the sassiness of late-'80s female rap acts such as L'Trimm and Anquette, but with some of M.I.A.'s musically expansive outlook. Here's looking forward to her 2012 debut album.

Filling the middle of the bill were poppy rockers Hot Chelle Rae. They got some boos, likely from Miller devotees, when they were announced by KISS-FM air staff, but the reception was warmer during their material. Between their Third Eye Blind-esque biggies, "Tonight Tonight" and "I Like It Like That," they ingratiated themselves with more directly danceable numbers. Among those was a boyishly masculine spin on Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream," a pointless venture that nevertheless enthused many in attendance.

Photo by Adam Miszewski
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