Hoodie Allen sets up camp at the Fillmore

Nicole White/Staff

On Feb. 8 at the Fillmore in San Francisco, Hoodie Allen fans packed in tight and quickly filled up the spacious venue. The clientele was atypical for a rap concert, as the crowd was dominated by teenagers (and in some cases, their parents too). There was quiet chatter that began to swell into a pure, electric buzz as the crowd got more anxious for the performers to reveal themselves. After Blackbear and Super Duper Kyle (two artists featured on his latest mixtape) performed, Hoodie Allen emerged to an accompaniment of intense guitar and drums. This musical flurry felt foreign to the general aesthetic of Allen, as his music is typically upbeat and poppy. Regardless, this interlude felt appropriate in terms of its energy.

The musicians were then taken over by the instantly recognizable beat of “Introduction to Anxiety,” the opening track of Allen’s Happy Camper. Replicating the album art, Allen came out dressed in all black accompanied by the iconic smiley-faced bandana and an even bigger smile on his own face. “Let’s make this the best night on tour right now!” Allen shouted after his grand entrance.

And thus, the tone was set for the night: the concert was conversational and engaging, and Allen was sure to interact with the crowd at every opportunity. Allen excels at making his performances deliberate and personal, and his charisma shines in his ability to work the crowd. Allen would frequently speak to the audience between tracks and break into seemingly improvisational moments. Covers of Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” and Twenty One Pilots’ “Stressed Out” kept the set feeling fresh and interesting, along with multiple breaks from the setlist including a freestyle by Allen and an impressive drum solo. The stage was rigged with confetti canons and CO2 blasters, with a huge display in the background flashing song lyrics and icons. Despite all this, the performance never felt self-indulgent or over the top, but rather appropriate for the environment Allen was creating.

Allen crowd surfed with an inflatable raft and performed “Cake Boy” amid the crowd, requesting that everyone “clear a safe space” for him to perform. There was an emphasis on intimacy throughout the show, as Allen engaged with his lighting crew and his producer during the show with requests for minute changes as the show was already in progress. When addressing the crowd, Allen projected humility and modesty, thanking everyone for supporting him on his tour and for downloading his albums.

Allen mentioned the significance that San Francisco has for him — as he recorded his debut mixtape Pep Rally before quitting his job at Google to pursue rap — and asserted that the Fillmore crowd was his loudest on tour to date. Toward the end of the show, Allen brought out two heavily featured artists (who had also opened for Allen), Blackbear and Super Duper Kyle. The songs “Surprise Party” and “Champagne and Pools” sounded much more complete with the live features than they would have with a pre-recording. With eight people on stage laughing and having fun while performing, it felt as though the audience members were attending a college party with a group of their goofy peers rather than a performance at a legendary venue, decked out with chandeliers. Overall, the concert was fun, engaging, personal and highly recommended for fans of Hoodie Allen or anyone looking to have a good time with some catchy, clever tunes.

Contact Sam Gunn at [email protected].