By Nia Hightower, DC Music Live
Philadelphia’s own “Legendary Roots Crew” turned out the historic Howard Theatre during its first of two performances in the District on April 15 and 16.
The hip-hop group, known for its live band performances, rocked the newly restored Howard Theatre with an ensemble – complete with keyboards, electric and bass guitars, congas and bongos, and of course Ahmir ?uestlove Thompson on drums.
Oh, did I forget to mention the sousaphone.
Damon “Tuba Gooding Jr.” Bryson definitely added his contribution to The Roots’ energy-filled performance. He and percussionist Frank Knuckles even added a bit of that D.C. go-go bounce to a couple of Roots classics, “Step Into the Realm” from Things Fall Apart and “Proceed” from Do You Want More?!!!??!
Aside from keeping Roots fans hyped, Bryson danced his way through a standing audience while playing to “Break You Off” from the group’s Phrenology album.
Just before the song ended, Bryson backed up for a running start to jump back onstage – sousaphone still wrapped around him. … It can’t be described as graceful, but he made it and provided a bit of comic relief for his bandmates.
The Roots excelled at giving the audience a show with songs, old and new, dispersed throughout – from Illadeph Halflife to How I Got Over, and more recently Undun.
Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter’s mastery on the mic last night was power-driven and seemingly effortless. His gruff, yet fluid, voice compels you to listen, and it reminds you why the Grammy Award-winning group’s success has spanned 25 years.
Guitarist “Captain” Kirk Douglas’ improvisational riffs from blues legend Bo Diddley’s “I’m A Man” and George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone” was added glitter to an already dazzling performance by the band.
The Roots’ ability to add ingredients from hip hop, neo soul, funk, rock and jazz has allowed the group to concoct a powerful blend. It’s the reason fans have stuck by the members all these years and the reason others have glommed onto their sound.
It’s good to see that nightly gigs as the house band for Late Night With Jimmy Fallon haven’t taken away from that Roots flavor. I think it’s safe to say we’ll be talking about the band for another 25 years.
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