The Roots

Austin City Limits Festival

September 19, 2004

Ahhhh, to start the day off listening to The Roots. I was poppin, lockin, dancing, grooving, shootin’ some b-ball outside of the school when…the beats were so tight and the low end so smooth. I related and connected so easily to their party songs that I actually felt black for a second. And then I looked at the way I was dancing. Man, Philadelphia hip-hop quintet The Roots were a force to be reckoned with Sunday afternoon at the Austin City Limits Festival. Their albums are concise and bumpin’, but when I heard them tight and organic comin’ out the speakers, it was so nice. As an instrumental rap group, they were able to create an improvised energy that a turntable and samples cannot.

Vocalist Black Thought was on target as he stalked the stage confident and cool. At one point, he said he didn’t want to be cocky, but The Roots were the number one sound system out there. I couldn’t disagree. Who else comes with such thoughtful, surgical rhymes and calculated sounds?

The Roots started the show off with “Boom!” The track from their new album, “The Tipping Point,” was a perfect energetic set-opener and an ode to parking lot bass blasting. For the rest of the first half of the set, The Roots burned through classics like “Proceed” but focused mainly on newer tunes like “I Don’t Care,” “Stay Cool,” and “Don’t Say Nuthin.” They played pieces of songs here and there and interweaved things pretty well. They even spat a verse from the bonus track on “The Tipping Point(“She wants to know if we can be together/Even if it ain’t gon be forever/But it can only be for one night/The only thing I’ve ever loved in my life is the mic”).”

For the second half of the set, The Roots showed their skills as band. It was a jam fest. I would have liked to have heard more songs, but I can’t argue with silly fresh guitar solos and badass drum/percussion collaborations. Man, even my friends who know The Roots backwards and forwards didn’t know who the guitar player was, but he was amazing. He did the Jimi Hendrix thing for a while up there. And there was drummer ?uestlove teaming up with their percussionist for a ten minute experimental clinic. It was nice hearing them go back and forth, but the highlight was when ?uestlove joined the percussionist to hit the congas, drumsticks in hand. It was sweet—those two talented guys and their four sticks creating some crazy rhythms.

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