Last night (Aug. 16), Hoodie Allen appeared before a near sold-out audience at New York’s Webster Hall, and couldn’t believe how many NYC fans he’d drawn. Hoodie Allen (real name: Steven Markowitz) first played the hall in October 2010 opening for fellow “frat-rap” artist Chris Webby, and now, less than a year later, he’s headlining in the Grand Ballroom after ticket sales outstripped the smaller Studio at Webster Hall.
Hoodie’s live show translated well to the bigger venue, which found the rapper flanked by two lingerie-clad go-go dancers for the entirety of his performance. The stage itself seemed empty, with just a drummer and his DJ, RJ Ferguson, serving as band. However, Hoodie had a crew of people on the sides and back making it seem a lot more crowded. Unlike most rappers, however, those people were very young teen-ish boys and girls who seemed to be there only to distribute balloons among the also surprisingly young audience.
Shortly after 10pm, Hoodie emerged to deafening chants of his name, and appropriately opened with “You’re Welcome,” which had the audience sing-along to the chorus. He then asked the crowd, “Anyone here like the Black Keys?” before moving on to his rendition of “Tighten Up.” This was a devoted crowd, who kept up with Hoodie and upped the energy, also accompanying him loudly whether he played a single or a mixtape cut from 2010’s “Pep Rally” or his July release of “Leap Year.”
Audience interaction was frequent, with Allen speaking to the crowd between almost every song, but his words were inaudible due to a poor mix. He frequently gave props to his his beat-master DJ RJ Ferguson, who he met when both were students at UPenn and is responsible for Hoodie’s beats.
Newcomer Tayyib Ali joined Hoodie on stage for “Can’t Hold Me Down,” but continuing sound issues meant his mic was barely audible. That didn’t seem to hinder the audience, with a few attempting to crowdsurf during the track. They were not alone, as Hoodie Allen made four dives into the audience (and boasted on Twitter “you only dropped me once”).
Hoodie prefaced “#White Girl Problems,” easily one of the night’s highlights, by asking, “NYC, what do they have?” as everyone yelled back “White girl problems!.” Next, he took to the keys and began singing “Moonbounce” and exited the stage.
When he returned for an encore, Allen chose brand new single “The Chase Is On” and the track that really launched him on the scene, his take on Marina & the Diamonds‘ “You Are Not A Robot.” Confetti fluttered onto the crowd as the last notes boomed. But the night was not over for Hoodie, who promised the audience to stay as long as it took sign and take photos with everyone.