Last night, rappers Pouya, Big K.R.I.T., Vince Staples and Mac Miller performed at the annual Halloween on the Rocks showcase, drawing many costumed fans. Pouya brought energy as the show's first opener, while Big K.R.I.T. calmed the audience during his set.
As the last opening act, Vince Staples attempted to hype up the crowd, shouting, "Denver, wake the fuck up!" early on in his set, but he couldn't seem to get them as energized as he wished. Even after playing the Major Lazer remix to Staples's song "Ghost" and his collaboration with Flume, "Smoke and Retribution," it was evident that spectators were eagerly awaiting Mac Miller.
And Miller did not disappoint, keeping the audience's hands in the air for nearly his entire set. It's no wonder that Malia Obama was seen dancing on the side of the stage at his performance at Lollapalooza in Chicago earlier this year.
But at this show, it was Mac Miller's girlfriend, Ariana Grande, who was dancing immediately to the side of the stage. After Miller returned for an encore, Grande surprised the audience with harmonies and traded a few lines to the love song "My Favorite Part." The two lovingly embraced after Miller looked toward her and sang the words "You just don't know how beautiful you are." Grande stuck around for the remainder of the encore and was just as enthusiastic as the crowd, jumping and waving her arms while singing through the end of the show.
The rapper's set was all over the place — but in a good way. Miller spanned the emotional and stylistic spectrum of his catalogue, exposing the turbulent life that he pours into his lyrics. The Pittsburgh native wandered among tracks that detailed hatred, love, drug-selling, hustling, relaxing and contemplation, showing greater depth than rappers who typically stick with a strictly R&B style or unforgiving gangster content. The fans did not ebb and flow with the speed or intensity of the show, but maintained their excitement through both the hype tracks and the slower melodies.
The tracks from Miller's new album added noticeable elements of funk, jazz and soul to the performance. After the crowd adjusted to these calm melodies, Miller would then switch to a brash rap song from earlier material as he jumped from one end of the stage to the other.
Before Miller left for the night, he reached for a Donald Trump mask before throwing it aside. "It's too close to the election, and fuck that," Miller said, referring to his hit song "Donald Trump." Instead of performing it, Miller replaced that track with songs off of mixtapes from the early part of his career.
As fans bounced in ornate costumes and arms swayed in the temperate night air, it seemed that the whole of Red Rocks, including a cheetah-clad Ariana Grande, adored Mac Miller.