Holy Macklemore! "How many people are hot as [bleep] right now?" asked the rapper as he addressed a crowd of sweltering tens of thousands in... London. No, that's not a misprint. "This is the first time that I've ever been here that I've seen the sun," Macklemore added, in the middle of a set that opened the second day of the Yahoo! Wireless Festival in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Retailers near the venue probably sold more sunscreen to balmy Brits this weekend than they have in the last five years combined.
And if the fans' shoulders weren't already red from the sun, some of them had big red welts by the time Macklemore finished his set on the main stage by walking out into the crowd — or onto the crowd, really, as he depended on Brits' hands and shoulders to hold him aloft while performing "Can't Hold Us."
Yanks got to watch all of Saturday's sweaty British action from the comfort of air-conditioned homes, thanks to Yahoo! Music's live feed. And it's not over yet. You can tune in for the third and final day's music at this link Sunday starting at 11 a.m. east coast time, 8 a.m. Pacific, with scheduled acts including will.i.am, A Tribe Called Quest, Nas, A$AP Rocky, and Katy B.
Meanwhile, here are some highlights from the festival's middle day:
1. Macklemore gets wiggy... and sends a gay-rights message.
At one point in his set, Macklemore put on a long blond wig. At another, he performed his gay equality message song, "Same Love." These were not related, lest you think that the rapper wanted to emphasize the T part of his LGBT-friendly anthem. The wig was just a moment of silliness for "And We Danced," which also found him putting on a Union Jack shirt. That levity stood in contrast to his somber introduction to "Same Love," in which he said today's youth "are in a very fascinating time right now in the history of the world" and "in the middle of the biggest civil rights movement of our generation… Finally around the world we are starting to have the conversation about marriage equality, and the fear and hatred that has been passed on from generation to generation is starting to cease." Lest he get too heavy, though, the following song's introduction told the real tale of the day. "This next song is about Cadillacs," he yelled. "Let's have a goddam party!"
2. Kendrick Lamar brings Compton to the Queen's 'hood.
"I came all the way from Compton to f--- with you," announced Lamar. From the webcast's numerous crowd shots of sunburned white kids who seemed to know every word of his raps, there must be a lot of South Kensingtonians who are really aspirational Comptonites at heart. Dressed all in white, Lamar was clearly prepared as could be for performing in the unusual London sun. Very little of what he said or rapped is printable in the proverbial family newspaper, including the part of his sing-along hit "P&P" that is not Putrone. But at least some of the physicality was family-friendly. Encouraging the throngs to jump up and down in the air for the cameras, Lamar yelled, "We're gonna make your mom and dad proud!"
3. Iggy Azalea further heats things up by doing the cool twerk.
Let's hope that any parents of the youngsters at the concert had stepped away from the computer during Azalea's set. "It's about to get really explicit!" said her compatriot, DJ Wizz Kidd. "Don't say I didn't warn you!" Even before that, it had been crystal clear that Azalea is a woman who is in touch with her own sexuality, but soon she and her backup dancers were caught up in a round of twerking so racy, it might've made Miley Cyrus blush and decide she still wants to be Hannah Montana after all. "All dem girls with the cheeks, where you at?" asked Azalea, whose navel-length locks stop just short of the attributes she most likes to show off. Kids, do not try this at home.
4. ...and, Ora! Rita Ora shows American viewers just what a phenomenon she is on home turf.
"We are home" screamed Ora. "We made everybody come to us, London!" Much of the Yahoo! Wireless Festival has consisted of American hip-hop/pop acts being exported to England for the show, and then exported back via webcast. But Ora is a true homeland heroine, even though her debut album — which hit No. 1 in the UK last year — hasn't even been released in the U.S. From a distance, you might mistake her for Shakira, not just because of her locks, but because she's obviously got Consummate Showwoman ingrained in her DNA. Her set Saturday was actually her second appearance of the festival, since she'd appeared as a guest Friday night with Snoop Dogg, wearing a green metallic dress. Saturday, she was dressed more sensibly for the temps, in bicycle shorts and sneakers, but brought the house down even dressed down. So when does the American invasion begin?
5. Tinie Tempah asks the crowd to doff their tops in the air, and wave 'em like they just don't care.
This English rapper joined Ora in being a local hero. Over there, he's had multiple top 10 singles and won an award for Best British Breakthrough Act two years ago, although in the U.S., he's fallen just shy of the top 10 — an on-the-verge status that could change when his sophomore effort comes out this fall. He changed the title of one of his UK hits, "Miami 2 Ibiza," to "London 2 Ibiza": "Today the weather’s good in London. I think we can say it today officially!" Toward the end of his set, Tempah said, "If you're not too shy or insecure, when the beat comes in, I'd love to see you spin that top like a helicopter." Many thousands of festgoers joined him in taking their shirts off and whipping them around in the air... and the webcast's cameras respectfully kept their distance in the crowd shots, lest we see whether as many women as men joined in the doffing.