The first time I saw Hoodie Allen was three years ago. I was in San Diego, standing next to a Heineken stand, in line for Fall Out Boy merch at the Boys Of Zummer tour. “Saw” is a very loose term, because despite being in the same venue, I mostly just heard him rapping in the distance and was able to make out his silhouette. He seemed to get the crowd hyped, but I didn’t think the act was anything special and kind of forgot about him for the next few years.
Flash forward to 2017, I meet a girl named Taylor. She’s cool, she’s funny, she’s a great writer and a great friend. She also loves Hoodie Allen. A fan from the start, I was always seeing Hoodie/Taylor interactions on my twitter timeline and hearing a lot of buzz surrounding this white boy rapper I sort of kind of knew about. Through this, I came to the conclusion that Hoodie seemed like a genuinely great person (kind, thoughtful, and always doing the most for the people that have supported him), so I hit him with a twitter follow, but I still didn’t listen to his music. Then, a few months ago, over the summer, I saw announcements for the 2018 Hanging With Hoodie Tour. I saw a stop at the Anaheim House of Blues, 10 minutes away from my apartment. I had no history of listening to this artist and no friends who’d be down to come with, but I thought, “Tickets are $30 and I can write about this experience… so why not?”.
When the September 22nd came, I Ubered to Anaheim Garden Walk and got on an mostly empty escalator to the upper level, to the House of Blues. I was checking my phone as I walked up most of the moving steps until I was close behind a couple, a dude in a Golden State Warriors sweatshirt and a tall pretty brunette. The guy turned back to glance at me, and I assumed he was asking himself why this girl decided to walk up the entirety of a moving escalator to stand right behind him and his girlfriend (answer: I’m just impatient), which I totally brushed off, since I usually don’t place heavy value on the opinions of random escalator people… but a few hours later I realized that those people were literally Hoodie Allen and girlfriend Sadie Newman. So I was off to a very interesting start.
The wait for the show was pretty uneventful, I basically just stood and waited, occasionally making small talk with the people in line around me. This is when I realized that this was my first concert ever where I had come alone. It’s funny, because for the longest time I thought of myself as a pretty socially anxious person who broke out into a cold sweat when forced to order food at a restaurant or talk to new people, but now here I was in 2018, driven by the sheer power of music to step out of the familiar and try new things- even a solo show headlined by a rapper that I only vaguely listened to. And the best part was I felt totally comfortable about it. I don’t know if I qualify as part of the “Hoodie Mob”, so to speak, but I can say that I felt incredibly welcome the whole time I was at the show. The fans were very nice, event workers were wonderful, and I experienced no pushing/shoving/rudeness of any kind in the pit. To top it all off, Hoodie made it a point to meet every single fan that came to his show.
You went through security, your ticket got scanned, and then you walked through the door to Hoodie Allen waiting to say hello. When I met Hoodie, I told him Taylor had sent me; he instantly recognized who I was talking about, gave me a hug, thanked me for coming out (A/N: Taylor’s on the East Coast and I showed up to a SoCal show, so he was a little shook by her influence on getting me out to see him) and told me to enjoy the show after we took our “tongues out, rock signs up” picture as per my request. The meet and greet was quick, sure, but it didn’t feel rushed, and it was admirable to see him standing there for two hours, making sure to meet every single fan that had come to see him. And after that was done, he even went on twitter and started liking mine and other fan’s posts that he’d been tagged in. All of this was a super nice gesture, and it’s very heartwarming to see artists that truly care about their fans.
The Parish at the House of Blues is a tiny room, with a capacity of 250, but the place was absolutely packed. All the fans there were buzzing with excitement awaiting an intimate performance by their favorite rapper. Gianni and Kyle, an energetic new duo, opened the show with some crazy dance moves, playful back and forth banter, and a rap cover of Stacy's Mom that had everyone in the crowd singing and smiling ear to ear. This was my first time finding out about these two and seeing them live, but I really enjoyed them and would go for round two if they came around again!
Around 9:30, the lights went down and the carnival music started. This was it. Hoodie jumped out on stage and opened with “Eighteen Cool”, a catchy 2012 track that lent itself to the audience’s energy (especially when he let us all scream about Kourtney Kardashian). Even as a casual Spotify listener in the weeks leading up to this show, this setlist was great because it had lots of popular songs, a good mix from older and more recent albums, and lots of short and catchy beats that are easy to learn the words to. Although “Sushi” tragically did not see the light of day (I love you, “Sushi”), some of my personal favorites from the set included “Movie”, “Fame Is For Assholes” (it’s a special skill when to take a mildly annoying Meghan Trainor-esque beat and transform it into one of your most iconic and crowd-pleasing songs), “You’re Not A Robot” (I’d never heard this one before but it’s on the list because it’s for the Hoodie lifers… and it was a very exciting surprise for me that I already knew the words thanks to my middle school Marina and the Diamonds phase) and our show-specific mashup of “Ain’t Ready” and “White Girl Problems”, which was decided randomly through a fan-interactive Hoodie-themed wheel of fortune spin.
Going off of that, this show was a blast because of the emphasis placed on audience participation and the whole carnival theme. There were dripping smiley face balloons released during “Surprise Party”, a point in the show where Hoodie got on an inflatable raft and trusted the audience to keep him up during unique version of crowd surfing, and carnival games like spin the wheel and Hoodie Allen trivia- in which the winner gets a free t-shirt! And the loser gets a cake to the face! Which is all fun and games until Hoodie throws the whole cake into the audience and Lexy has no idea that’s a thing and shrieks bloody murder when she sees the cake coming her way (thankfully it hit the people right behind her, who were prepared and enthusiastic about it to the point they were laughing as they scooped some arm frosting into their mouths).
As Hoodie ended the night with grateful words and an encore of “No Faith In Brooklyn” and “No Interruption”, I realized how great this show was. Despite knowing the bare minimum about Hoodie Allen at the start of the day, by the end I had experienced first hand how big this guy’s heart is and how he’s built his fanbase to be a family. Because of that, he put together one of the funnest live shows I’ve been to in a while. That night lived up to what it was advertised to be. I left with the quiet rush of happiness equated to the feeling of leaving a carnival at night. Walking away, thinking about how you can't wait until next time, holding your balloons and your fun memories close as you see the bright lights fade into the distance- but more than that, I really did feel like I was Hanging With Hoodie.
If you’re ever debating whether or not to go to a show alone, do it. If you’re wondering if you should take your friend’s music recommendations, take them. You won’t regret the experience. This is my way of telling you that the Hanging With Hoodie tour is great, and I recommend that you go out and see if for yourself. Most dates of this intimate tour are sold out on Hoodie's website, but tickets are still available on StubHub (and if after all that, you’re having no luck, maybe you can get by with a little help from a friend).