all words: Erin Holmes
all photos: Kevin Carroll
The Roots! We should all know them by now, right? Insert comments about how they’ve been around since the early-90’s and have finally recently been deemed the “the best band in hip hop” or “the hardest working band in show business,” about how brilliant they are on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, about the acclaim of their recent albums (How I Got Over and their collaboration with John Legend on Wake Up!). Now that we’re all caught up… How awesome was their second show at 9:30 Club this week…
I think the greatness of Night Two may unfortunately be due to the shortcomings of Night One: since many members of The Roots were delayed on Monday night due to the snowstorm that had hit New York, Roots-mastermind Questlove had to DJ for a couple hours to ease the restless crowd until the rest of Roots Crew arrived.
Although The Roots played for over two hours once they finally did go on stage (immediately after endless hours of traveling, mind you), there was still some negative responses to the show’s delay, such as one Twitterer’s complaint that The Roots “pulled a Lauryn Hill.”
These complaints did not go unnoticed or ignored by Questlove and The Roots, who pride themselves on their stellar reputation and professionalism, which is probably why Questlove was on stage with his turntables as soon as the 9:30 Club doors opened at 7:00pm on Tuesday night, warming up the crowd for two and a half hours despite having been on stage for five hours straight the night before. Are you starting to understand why The Roots are deemed “hard-working”? Good. Moving on…
Questlove put together an enjoyable mix of old and new hits (from Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” to Common’s “The Light”), the perfect tune-up for The Roots themselves who also mix old-and-new with their funkily-nostalgic yet contemporary hip-hop-rock. Love that sousaphone. They also promptly went on around 9:30pm (!) and proceeded to pull out all the stops for two hours… If, like me, you wanted to hear a bit of their new, sing along to some of their classics, enjoy a couple covers, and bounce along to their amazing stage choreography of dancing, jumping, yelling all over the place… you got what you paid for and then some. The fun covers included “Apache,” “Jungle Boogie,” and “Let Me Stand Next To Your Fire” (Captain Kirk=modern-day Jimi Hendrix. Yes I said it and yes I’m scared of your response).
While their current stuff is great, their old songs which they stretch out to be ten to twenty minutes long (“Mellow My Man,” “You Got Me,” and the night’s closer “The Seed 2.0”) obviously stood out as highlights. Not to mention The Roots brought in some local guests to give some personal D.C. flair to their act— Washington rapper Wale, Virginia native Skillz, and female vocalist Wayna who sang Erykah Badu’s part on “You Got Me”… Fun fact: Ethiopian Wayna majored in English and Communications at the University of Maryland and was a writer for the White House during the Clinton years!
To sum up: Set list: fantastic. Energy: fierce. Guests: fun, fitting, fabulous.
And then there was Questlove, drumming like a maniac until the very end, spending over nine hours total on stage at the 9:30 Club for two nights. The Roots are not only hard-working, professional, talented, unique yet wonderfully familiar, down to earth… they are damn good performers. See them live. Now.
Dear D.C., you’re welcome. Never compare us to Lauryn Hill again. Love, The Roots.