Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Updated to add the writeup on the show.

Masturbatory - that was the first word that came to my mind as I searched for ways to describe the Roots' performance as I left Central Park last night. I used to say, there's no such thing as a bad Roots show, just ones that don't meet expectations. I have to say, there is such a thing and I'm not the only one who felt that way.

I used to love going to Roots shows because they were, above all else, fun. They knew what the crowd wanted and gave it to them. More importantly, they brought the crowd into the show. Now, they're just putting on a performance. It's not "feel us", it's "look at us play". I'm all for artists exploring new territories and challenging the audience, but there has to be a balance. Instead of getting the audience moving, they were content to perform musical masturbation.

Along the same theme, there was the set list. We became fans because of Illadelph Halflife and Do You Want More?!!!?! and that's what the Roots are about for us. So don't play a set that's heavy on Tipping Point. You can't call yourself The Legendary Roots Crew and dismiss what made you legendary in the first place.

In hip hop, more so than other genres, a concert has to be a conversation between the artist and the audience. The audience is an integral part of the show.

To be fair though, I guess the venue and the crowd didn't help much. You're always going to lose a little atmosphere with an outdoor concert and it was about as humid as could get. I was worried about getting caught in a thunderstorm, but honestly, I would've preferred some rain as I was drenched in sweat anyway.

The openers MF Doom and De La Soul were much more enjoyable. Doom didn't exactly rock the crowd but his goofiness kept things loose and De La's set felt way too short. Great seeing Premier spin some classic tracks between sets, and Mos Def make cameos for both De La and the Roots. I feel the same way about Mos as I do about Rasheed Wallace; his joie de vivre is just infectious, and even though his output's often disappointing, I just can't hate the guy.

But overall, a disappointing night. Though at least we saved some Rhinos.

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