One night, way back in 1995, it seemed like the stars had aligned and everything was right in the world. Y’see on that night I went to see The Roots with the love of my life.
It was cool because, obviously I was spending time with the girl that swore that I was destined to be with. But on an entirely different level I was slayed to actually be seeing The Roots, live.
My friends and I had become enamored with The Roots after seeing the video for Distortion to Static which sounded like nothing at the time. When we found out that they actually used live instruments we were blown away. The Roots were in heavy rotation during the period of my life when I began linking music with experiences.
Anyway, back to the concert in 1995, I was pumped. I was literally as excited as a kid on Christmas Eve. I’d been a fanatically playing Do You Want More? and probably had every song memorized. I’m pretty sure I had every version of Proceed and had worn out ever cassette single of theirs that I had. This was clearly going to be a remarkable night.
The thing is, this was 1995 and The Roots weren’t nearly as big as they are now. Thus the venue they played was subpar. Actually that’s being generous. They played the Buena Vista Theater, which was literally a former movie theater, complete with the movie theater seats still installed. It was as shame.
The show was hardly packed, but again this was The Roots in 1995 in Tucson, so that’s to be expected. The show was dope, but only just barely. As anyone who has seen The Roots knows, they feed off of the audience. Well the audience (what little of it was there) didn’t quite “get it.” And to be fair, those of us raised in Tucson didn’t quite have a handle on Hip Hop, and certainly didn’t know how to react in a concert setting.
Basically the crowd was wack, which affected the performance. They started the intro to Essaywhuman? but aborted it because the crowd didn’t catch on. I was so blown, because I knew what was coming and they pulled the plug. Still it was a dope show. I can remember being impressed at how they actually “covered” other Hip Hop songs (which is why I so irked when some people said The Roots were biting the Fugees by doing that after the Fugees blew up.)
Of course by now you’ve got to be wondering why I’m regaling you with tales of a decade old concert. Well, it’s because I attended another concert by The Roots this past Sunday, and it may have been the greatest concert ever.
When I heard that The Roots were coming to Vegas for a show I knew I had to go. I mean it seemed like fate, that I’d have the chance to see The Roots again, a decade after the first time I saw them. That couldn’t just be a coincidence.
I requested the day off of work, because it was an early show (the doors opened at 6:30). It was my roommate, her niece (who just moved in) and myself heading off to the House of Blues to see a show I was confident was going to be great.
I dig Vegas in many regards, but not it’s radio. On the way to the concert I was forced to endure the tortuous sounds of FM radio. I tried to tell myself that it was going to make the concert that much sweeter, but I couldn’t quite get myself to fall for it.
We arrived, I bought the tickets (my birthday present to my roommate, whose birthday is actually today) and then we waited in line. At that point my roommates niece announced that it was her first concert. I was appalled, but happy that seeing The Roots was going to be her first experience.
Unfortunately the guy ahead of us overheard that it was her first concert and took that opportunity to start up a conversation with us. I did my best to dissuade him, by doing my best to give monosyllabic answers like; “oh.” and “yeah” and “rap.” I really didn’t want to be sidled with an outsider and fortunately we lost him going through security.
Opening for The Roots was The Chapter, which is probably always going to be described as a “skim Roots”, given the almost identical set up (live band, solo MC.) They were full of energy and put on a good show, but they were clearly the opening act.
The Chapter left the stage, the house lights came up and floor thinned. We used this opportunity to get a better position on the floor and maneuvered our way about three people from the front of the stage. Given the lull I used the time to observe the audience.
Imagine my dismay to find myself in the minority at a Hip Hop concert! I swear to you there were probably more Asians and Pacific Islanders in attendance than white people, and there were quite a few white folks. I was mostly disappointed that there were no, and I mean no, shaggable Black females. It’s really a sad day when you can’t pick up a Black girl at a Hip Hop concert.
And to make matters worse, I was trying hard not to be distracted by the lesbian threesome who were bumping and grinding each other as if conception were even possible. And I’m not talking about “pornstar/hot lesbians”, I’m talking about “Ellen/Rosie/Cheney” lesbians. The way I saw it, the concert experience could only get better.
It did. The Roots put on a magnificent show. Honesty any Hip Hop concert that can boast renditions of Black Betty, Shimmy Shimmy Ya, Iron Man and Nu Nu (oh I was slayed) plus a bass solo (Hub was sick!) has to be considered an amazing experience.
Of course there was the requisite spontaneous breakdancing in the audience and someone had spilled their drink, which I was slipping in, but the experience was still dope. The crowd was life and The Roots were really feeding off them. I don’t know who was on guitar, but he really did his thing.
Two things of note; I dug how The Roots are doing their part of stem the misuse of “nAgga” by replacing it in the chorus of Water with “worldwide.” I noticed it immediately and was impressed.
The other thing was that despite how dope the show was (and it was pretty much flawless) I missed Rahzel. I remember how he killed it with his beatboxing back in Tucson. The beatbox portion was sorely missed.
After we left the concert (which had no encore, another thing that sucked) I actually had to blocks some dudes who were trying too hard to press up on my roommates and couldn’t take the subtle hints they were passing along.
As I was trying to adjust to my loss of hearing I noticed there was something on my right Tim. I couldn’t tell what it was but it looked like it had splashed on me. And it was at that moment that I realized it was vomit that I had been slipping in throughout the concert. Someone, in my direct proximity has hurled and I had caught a wave on my right boot.
I guess it’s off to 5th and Fashion for me.
My main point is that if you get the chance to see The Roots, you should jump on it. Even if you aren’t a Hip Hop fan, you’ll still see an amazing show, as The Roots kind of transcend Hip Hop. Trust me you won’t be disappointed.
The Tipping Point
Aaron shares his workout regimine, questions Cam’ron’s bigwigness, and I’m still pissed that he disses Party All The Time which is a classic. It’s the song that I wake up to every morning and fall asleep to every night. If only there were some way for The Roots to cover it…
Jeff has a festive Halloween edition of the Swindle Sheet. He also had another column called The Human Guinea Pig. For the record I love Taco Bell’s new nachos and actually had them after the concert.
KDP bows to pressure and delivers a more music oriented column with a kind of perverse title. Kind of like the title of the most recent album by The Roots.
Gloomchen gives us her Road Trip Mix. Hm, doesn’t this smell like a Zone Feature in the works? And as I’m sure you know my Road Trip mix would feature 1000% more of The Roots.
Ian has mouthwateringly good news about Ryan Adams, tells the awful truth about Weezer yet is really lacking in his recommended weekly dosage of news about The Roots. For shame.
Five Acts That I’ve Got to See Live and in Concert
1. Ryan Adams
3. De La Soul
4. Little Brother
Five Acts That I Wish I’d Have Seen Live in Concert
1. Ol’ Dirty Bastard
2. Jeff Buckley
3. Johnny Cash
4. Notorious B.I.G.
5. Weezer (with Matt Sharp in the line up)