Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Roots and Gym Class Heroes in NYC

I recently had the chance to check out Estelle, Gym Class Heroes and The Roots at Roseland Ballroom in NYC. I attended the show with my friends Amber, Lucy and Danny and I think it is safe to say, a great time was had by all.

Estelle: I don’t know much about this woman except that she is English and more than likely a one-hit wonder (I am not hating on this, because I have yet to have one hit, so she’s beating me there). We missed her portion of the show because we chose to go to an Applebees for “dinner.” This “dinner” cost over $200 and my friends were quick to blame higher prices in the city and NY state sales tax, I blame the fact that the only food consumed was a quesadilla and the rest of the “meal” came in shot glasses and thick glass goblets. Although we missed her performance I am fairly confident it consisted of a few songs that were ignored by the crowd, concluded with “American Boy” and a shout out to Kanye West and the date her album is dropping. I was not at all upset that I missed this.

Gym Class Heroes: I have mentioned how much I like them before, but I am going to make this statement, even though I’m not sure it’s a real word: they are the funnest band in America! They make fun party music, they seem to enjoy themselves and their mix of rap/rock/R&B is as infectious as Pamela Anderson. After a few songs from their early albums (of which I was unaware) they got into the hits from “As Cruel as School Children” and “The Quilt” and it was on. Travis McCoy reminds me of Will Smith if “Big Willy” was cool and not a sexually ambiguous scientologist (I really hope Eminem gets at him on “Relapse). Either way, the performance was sick and it ended with a tribute to the ‘80s and girls with a cover of “When Doves Cry” “Clothes Off!” and “Cookie Jar” (best song this year not involving Lil’ Wayne). Awesome.

The Roots: I have seen The Roots like five times and I have figured this much out: there are two versions of this band. There is the Hip-Hop version that tours with Lupe Fiasco, does “Unplugged” with Jay-Z and puts out songs like “Get Busy.” Then there is the Pop/Rock/College Radio version that performs at hippie festivals, gets love from Rolling Stone and collaborates with Nora Jones. This performance was clearly the latter: they covered “Sweet Child O’Mine,” did “The Seed 2.0” (which I love), played “rock” versions of most of their album cuts and performed their biggest crossover hit “You Got Me” with Estelle instead of Erekah Badu. This set-list made sense because they were not in a traditional hip-hop venue, Gym Class Heroes do not have a large hip-hop fan base and Continental Airlines Arena was hosting Power 105.1’s Power Jam the same night, which means 20,000 NY/NJ hip-hop heads were listening to T-Pain sing into his computer while The Roots tore down this stage (it is not a fair world).

The Roots broke from their own material to introduce Q-Tip, who performed a few songs with the band and his new single “Getting’ Up.” After a few more Roots songs Mos Def came out and thoroughly impressed the crowd by performing several of his classic verses. To end the night The Roots played the beat from “Men at Work” while Black Thought did a dead-on Kool G Rap (the guy Jay-Z mentions in “Encore”) impersonation. This was possibly the highlight of the show for rap fans like myself, however a large majority of the crowd stood around and looked confused as to why he was sweating profusely and feverishly rapping with a lisp.

The show was cool and Roseland Ballroom is a great venue, hopefully they will have more good shows in the near future.

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