Hoodie Allen’s ‘Hanging with Hoodie’ tour is the ideal fan experience

Hoodie Allen drifts across Toronto’s Mod Club Theatre on an inflatable raft propped up by adoring fans. (Reid Valmestad via @hoodieallen/Twitter)

When independent American rapper Hoodie Allen embarked on a 35-date tour across North America, his mission was to connect as closely as possible with his fans.

Allen’s Hanging with Hoodie 2018 tour came to the Mod Club Theatre in Toronto on Oct. 30 and came with a free meet and greet, and the promise that every fan would have a good view of the show. To ensure this experience was repeated during his tour, he only sold 400 tickets to each show and purposely booked smaller, intimate venues. Upon entering the Mod Club Theatre, fans were directed to a room where they would be able to take a picture with Allen, who excitedly thanked them for coming.

From start to finish, Allen engaged with his audience. Towards the beginning of the show, Allen dared a fan at the front of the stage to do a shot of tequila with him. With a smile that spread from ear to ear, Allen handed the fan a $10 bill that sent her flying towards the bar. The crowd couldn’t help but laugh along.

This was just one of the many times Allen engaged with the fans in attendance. Halfway through his set, the artist called out for two fans to join him on stage to participate in a game of “Hoodie Trivia.” The two fans, one of whom was wearing a giraffe onesie, rushed to the stage and stood in front of their buzzers. Allen asked them several questions that were no sweat for his die-hard fans, such as naming the five artists he’s collaborated with in his career and finishing the lyrics to one of his classic tunes. The fan in the giraffe onesie took the cake, quite literally, as his reward was to smash a cake, topped with a thick coat of frosting, into his opponent’s face.

Allen used this humorous bit to transition into performing his 2013 hit “Cake Boy.” It was no surprise to fans who have attended his shows before that the artist and his band would start to throw cakes into the crowd while he performed. Luckily, Allen’s team sprayed water at the crowd and handed out water bottles afterward to help fans wash off the cake and cool down.

Adding to the energy in the venue, Allen crowd-surfed on an inflatable raft, high-fiving fans as he drifted across the venue.

For Sam Budge, her Hanging with Hoodie 2018 experience included an exclusive hangout with the artist and his band. A dedicated fan, Budge purchased the Super VIP ticket which allowed her to enter the venue early, where she played games of beer pong and ring toss with Allen.

“Hoodie not only makes an effort to meet his fans, but he wants to get to know them,” Budge reflected on her pre-concert experience.

When the show began, she was standing directly in front of the stage where she got a clear view of the artist’s electric performance.

“When Hoodie Allen came on, it was like I was in another world. And I didn’t have a care in the world,” she said.

After the show, Budge met with the opening act, California-based hip-hop duo Gianni and Kyle. During their set, the duo also engaged with fans by grabbing their cellphones and taking videos as they performed.

Budge was also the recipient of a text from Allen a few days before the concert. Allen chooses to personally text fans when he arrives in their cities to see if they’ll be attending his shows. He does this by collecting their phone numbers via a form on his social media pages called “The Hoodie Line.” On several occasions, he has given out tickets to fans who responded to his texts saying they will not be in attendance.

Before his shows began, Allen published a tweet with a link to a Google form that allowed fans input which songs they’d like to hear him play. Allen created the setlist for the Hanging With Hoodie 2018 tour based on these responses.

Most fans voted to hear his older tracks, like “No Interruption” from his debut album All American and the viral track “James Franco” from Leap Year, the third mixtape he ever released. Allen followed through with these requests, but whatever song he chose to perform, the crowd never failed to react in excitement. With each song, lights surrounding the stage would begin to pulse along to the heavy bass beats, creating a well-timed colour show that cascaded across the venue, contributing to the already immersive performance.

Engaging with fans, energetic rap performances and non-stop surprises for the crowd — Allen did it all. At the sight of fans leaving the venue with drenched clothes and frosting on their faces, it was undeniable that Allen gave his fans an experience unlike that at any other concert.