Tapping Into the Flathead’s Hip-Hop Audience

By Beacon Staff

A local event production company is gearing up for a show for anyone who wants something a little different than the conventional country or hard rock fare typical of rural areas.

It’s also a show for anyone who, since the 1990s, may have wished they were a little bit taller and possibly even yearned to be a baller.

Seth Macalister, owner and operator of Lith Industries, will host several hip-hop and electronic acts at the Kalispell Elks Lodge on June 10. The headliner, rapper Skee-Lo, is perhaps best known for his hit, “I Wish,” which topped out on the Billboard 100 at No. 13 in 1995.

Last year, Macalister, 27, brought a member of the Wu-Tang Clan to play in the Flathead, which he said was a hit with the crowd. It also proved that there is an audience here for music that strays from the country and rock and roll genres, he said.

“I’m just trying to do something that’s a little more off the beaten path,” Macalister said. “This is kind of my second try at bringing in somebody fairly well known that’s not in the underground.”

Skee-Lo is more of a high-profile performer than any that have played for his shows, Macalister said, with two Grammy award nominations and as a former video jockey for MTV.

The rapper’s current single, “Burnin’ Up,” is doing well in California, Macalister said, and the unofficial word is that he will have a new album out this fall.

“He’s having quite a bit of radio play down in California; I think it’s pretty cool that we were able to get him up here at this time,” Macalister said.

Macalister is no stranger to providing entertainment; as a sound engineer, DJ and member of a hip-hop group, he has played shows in multiple venues throughout the Flathead Valley, Missoula and Bozeman since 2008.

Through these experiences, Macalister said he saw an untapped audience hungry for more opportunities to connect with different music genres.

“I just saw that a lot of people want to go to a show or check something out that’s a little different, but at the same time they were traveling to Missoula or Spokane or Bozeman,” he said.

A graduate of Whitefish High School, Macalister has lived in Montana for most of his life. However, the lack of major acts that fit his musical tastes in the Flathead was noticeable, so much so that he decided to start bringing them here himself.

“This is the valley I live in, this is home for me,” Macalister said. “I’d like it to get artists a little further away from the interstate. I think we’ve got a really neat demographic up here.”

Along with Skee-Lo, the June 10 show will feature Macalister’s group, Maddstyle54, as well as Bozeman-based group Filth and Foul and Loud MC. Tickets cost $15 and are available at the Elks Lodge. It begins at 9:30 p.m.

While Macalister had hoped to set up a split show for the over-18-under-21 crowd, this show will only be for audience members who are at least 21 years old.

So far, Macalister thinks his efforts at musical diversification in the Flathead have been successful. The crowd size is there, he said, and his business is profiting from it.

The upcoming show will help determine if Lith Industries will schedule concerts in the future, Macalister said, but ideally he would like to put on one major show a month for the summer.

Future events will likely include the younger crowd, he said, but he expects the Skee-Lo show to draw a solid audience.

“I think it’s a pretty big treat to have someone with this big a name come into our town,” Macalister said. “It should be really fun.”