I could probably stand to see puppies being pitted against each other Thunderdome-style as long as I were enjoying the show from the Staples Center’s swanky Hyde Lounge. The carnage might even be enjoyable when witnessed from one of their soft leather seats, signature cocktail in hand, delicious gourmet snack before me, friendly staff tending to my every need. Imagine, then, how I felt seeing Macklemore & Ryan Lewis perform to a sold-out Staples Center from Hyde last week. If you guessed “like a straight pimp,” then you’re correct. (I’ll also accept “baller” and “large and in charge” for half-credit.)

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are the number one independent hip-hop act in the world, and the proof is in the pudding. That’s their live show, by the way, and it was incredible. The duo wraps up the North American leg of their tour this week in Seattle and takes their act worldwide in March with dates from Australia to the Czech Republic, and if those shows are as good as the one I saw, then we need to start taking measures to prevent the duo from attaining global domination. If anyone can do it, these two dudes who met on MySpace can.

Macklemore is the well-adjusted man’s Eminem. He’s funny, thoughtful, socially conscious, self-deprecating, and contagiously enthusiastic. No matter the tone of the music — from the fun and catchy “Thrift Shop,” featuring the booming bass vocal of Wanz, to the deeply personal “Starting Over,” a frank ode to his sobriety — the show’s unifying element was the clear passion Macklemore has for what he does. The only person I’ve ever seen more psyched to be on stage in front of a crowd was Nick Carter during the Backstreet Boys reunion tour. No offense, Nick Carter, but there’s a major talent differential there that doesn’t favor you.

I normally find it a bit tacky when a band plays their big hit twice during a show, but when Macklemore & Ryan Lewis reprised “Can’t Hold Us” during the encore, it didn’t bother me or anyone else one bit, as we were too busy dancing our ever-loving asses off. Man, is that song good.

In an evening filled with memorable moments — Mary Lambert’s powerful vocal in “Same Love,” otherwise known as the “What’s Going On” of this generation; the gathered ensemble’s off-the-cuff freestyle session; Macklemore pausing to recall his debut at the Viper Room three years ago, marveling at his journey to the sold-out Staples Center — my personal favorite was Macklemore’s performance of “And We Danced” as his British glam rock alter-ego Raven Bowie. Yes, he wore the costume featured in the video, and yes, it was every bit as hilarious live.

It’s much easier to appreciate a performance, especially at a large arena like the Staples Center, without a hard plastic chair digging into the back of your legs as you stand on your tiptoes, trying to see past the freakishly tall person in front of you, inhaling the scent of hot dogs and spilled beer all the while. Hyde Lounge is the perfect place to make a great show even better by eliminating those familiar concert-going nuisances. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy feeling like a baller once in a while?

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Macklemore & Ryan Lewis