(All photos taken by Ross Farrar, who just happens to be the lead singer of punk band Ceremony)

Macklemore is walking on people’s heads. For real: The 29-year-old rapper is stepping from hand to hand and head to head above the crowd at the Neptune Theatre in Seattle. The faces of the kids holding him aloft bear the illuminated, determined countenance of apostles enduring a holy trial. Around them, the audience of 800 is going bonkers, dancing in a blizzard of confetti exploding from cannons, while onstage, under spiraling spotlights, 24-year-old producer Ryan Lewis bumps the triumphant beat to “Can’t Hold Us.” Next to him, 21-year-old singer Ray Dalton wails on the hook: “Can we go back, this is the moment/Tonight is the night, we’ll fight till it’s over/So we put up our hands like the ceiling can’t hold us…”

Despite its Super Bowl halftime show ambiance, this is the most intimate concert Macklemore and Lewis have played in months. Their single, “Thrift Shop,” has recently gone multi-platinum, resides at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, is Number One in the UK, Denmark and Australia, and has accrued some 100 million views on YouTube. Their debut album, The Heist, has sold some 300,000 copies since its October release. Their recent US tour was sold out across the continent; February shows in Australia and New Zealand were sold out in advance. It’s worth noting that they’ve scored each of these victories as independent artists without the support of a record label. “We’re absolutely running a massive business right now,” Lewis says. “And at the same time, we’re absolutely wanting to do what we love, which is create art.”

There’s more: Their home state of Washington was the first in America to approve same-sex marriage through popular vote, an issue the pair vocally supported with their single “Same Love.” When they perform the song tonight—the first time in Seattle since Referendum 74 passed in November—it plays like an anthem.

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