Indy Hip Hop World

"A setback is just a setup for a comeback." --from Bebe Moore Campbell's "72 Hour Hold"

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Deja Vu - August 5, 2006

I have been talking and talking about The Roots concert in Cleveland for some time; about as much as I've sprinked in comments about their upcoming cd - August 25.

But the concert date finally came and after a variety of activities prior to the performance (including helping my Mom get 'dressed' for a wedding and attending a tea party), I was really anxious to get my groove on.

Truth be told, I did not actually purchase tix for the show and I because a bit nervous because my contact person, who would secure tix for me, was no where to be found. I suffered on through the day and he and I finally touched base with instructions for me and my guest, Neal Hodges, to meet him @ the venue at 8:30 p.m. - the show was scheduled to get underway @ 10 p.m. I made great haste to be on time and all went well including available off street parking in a construction filled downtown Cleveland.

Neal and I sauntered into the House of Blues' Foundation Room - where they tell me membership runs in the thousands annually. Nice perks if you roll like that. The first person we run in to in the Foundation Room is Terry Stewart, CEO of the infamous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and his wife. I had not seen Terry in some time, so it was nice to sit and chat with him and his wife, though they did not stay for the show. Terry sort of warned us though that the concert hall was all decked out in a 'carnival-like' atmosphere. Neal and I got a bit antsy waiting for the ticket hook up so we cruised around to the restaurant to get a lil something to eat.

Enter the my boy, Arnold Hines ... event and party promoter extraordinaire and all around good guy! Is this the second year in a row that he has had a hand in my birthday activities ..., it is. So he has the tickets, but he also notes a scheduling conflict that Neal and I had already peeped - the afterset @ B-Sides where ?uestlove was supposed to be spinning after their show. But the timing was off because The Roots would not complete their set until near 2 a.m. You see in Cleveland, most clubs close @ 2:30 a.m. with last call at about 2 a.m. So the ability to complete the show, then travel to Cleveland Heights for the after party would not be feasible in the time available. Crazy, huh?

Once we got our tickets, Neal and I were in motion and all over the venue. I have failed to mention that The Roots concert is/was a part of "The New Jazz Philosophy Tour 2006" sponsored by KOOL. And yes, that is cigarettes. I was a bit indifferent about a tobacco company as the sponsor of this show (it sort of connects the artists to encouraging smoking, but that's another topic for another blog), but now I see a component of the greater good aka 'how it benefits me'. No, it's not just me, but let me elaborate. In my humble opinion, first and foremost, the KOOL sponsorship keeps the ticket prices reasonable. Tix for this show were $16 - three acts for $16 - come on!!?? But KOOL takes it a few steps further. The 'carnival-like' atmosphere that Stewart alluded to were various work stations through the venue with complimentary items like airbrused t-shirts and hats, engraved dog tags, key chains, lighters and as well as photos. That, indeed, was cool - though the b-day girl was unable to secure an airbrushed t-shirt that I'd envisioned with a microphone and my radiogirl moniker. Oh, well, happy birthday to me, huh?

Still, I have not mentioned a drop about the reason for my existence - The Roots concert! Just stay seated and be patient grasshopper, I will continue to share my wisdom at my own pace ...
I like the Pharcyde, but I must admit that I was just too hyped and was primarily focused on seeing The Roots. Say the same for the middle act, Miri Ben-Ari.

When The Roots finally took the stage at about 11:30 p.m., I had managed to secure a stool to sit on in the balcony area - though I would hardly use the stool. They came out performing strong with BlackThought just spitting rhymes for what seemed like 30 minutes. He is sooooo incredibly talented that I am reluctant to compare him to anyone else. However, I may have previously mentioned that his style reminds me of the legendary Rakim.

There were lots of my favs performed from both the "Phrenology" and "The Tipping Point" cds. Tracks like "Star," "Don't Say Nuthin'," "Stay Cool," "The Seed," "You Got Me," and"The Next Movement." They also mixed in some newbies including "Don't Feel Right," "In the Music," and "Here I Come" - which I absolutely love! I've been playing it on my hip hop show.

Even after hearing BlackThought countless times on various projects, I was still in awe of his performance. It's what he says, how he says it - his pacing and intonation - that is just genius. BlackThought is my new crush - he is my eye candy! But of course, I had my eye on ?uesto, who was sporting a 'The Root of All Evil' t-shirt and the requisite 'fro was in full effect too. He was doin the damn thing. Ditto for Hub, the bassist. He is so consistently calm and collected with his cigar in his mouth while he plays. And he gets down wit the get down. Love that. I did not have a good look at Kamal from my vantage point, but I was feelin him on the keyboards though not nearly as much as guitarist Capt. Kirk. Dam-yum he's fierce with that instrument. We was working it out on every song. Percussionist F. Knuckles works well with ?uestlove. It was fun to watch him do his thing. Individually, each member of The Roots is incredible making the group something akin to phenomenal - to say the least.

I enjoyed the show and I am, already, on a quest to see them again. The good news for me is that The Roots are back in Clev in late September performing @ Case Western Reserve University. I need to find out the scoop on that one, real fast.

The thing that I perhaps missed in the show was that they usually have guests like Talib or Common on the bill. The lack of backup vocals on some tracks did leave a bit of a void.

Other than that, it was all that I'd hoped and imagined that it would be. But you know your girl wanted to cop a Roots t-shirt, but since the selection for a women's shirts was next to nil, I came away from the vendor's table empty-handed.

Oh and another note, my friend D Atwell, who is a huge fan of The Roots, schooled me beforehand about being at a Roots show. He was very forthright in his wisdom about obtaining a drumstick from ?uestlove. Atwell already owns several and challenged me to come away with one. I was not up for the challenge, however, I did share the tidbit with Neal, my guest. And when the show was over and I was pining for one, Neal encouraged me to meander to the front of the balcony when he noticed ?uest come to the front of the stage as he was signing the aforementioned drumsticks. What is/was the liklihood that I could be the recipient of the covented items especially from my distance ... ? Again, I was not up for the challenge, but Neal persisted and got me to line up along the balcony and by this time ?uest had his last drumstick in his hand, ready to toss it. You will not believe this, but he noticed me and my boy and sort of signaled that it was coming our way. Neal was positioned like an MLB shortstop - he wanted this as much as me, though my effort was really borderline enthusiastic. ?uest lobs the drumstick, it floats through the air, over the crowd on the main floor, it is headed to Neal and I in the top left corner of the balcony until this Nick Lachey look-a-like intercepts and the drumstick is deflected into the hungry crowd below - who did not see it coming. WHAT?? Are you kidding? I thought Neal would knock the block off this kid, who then looked at us in a most pitiful way. Yeah, thanks for ruining my souvenir ... thanks for the memory of my non-memento.

And so it is ... what I've dreamed of all summer has come and gone ... stay true, kfox

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