by David Downs
As if we needed any more proof that The Roots' 2006 album Game Theory was a downer both in sales and appeal, the band enlightened San Francisco Wednesday night with a raucous, sold-out show that succeeded precisely where their Theory failed.
"Game Theory is so melancholy and emotional and moody that our current live show absolutely betrays the feeling of that album," Ahmir ?uestlove Thompson told Billboard in an article published Feb. 6. Indeed. The Roots entered the Fillmore through the crowd like a New Orleans parade band with a ten-man team that included a four-piece brass section, then played their upbeat hits for two-and-a-half hours (goddam!) including covers from Justin Timberlake, BizMarkie, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Kool and the Gang and the frickin' Police.
People go apeshit for "Roxanne" as done by anyone. Part of it's because white people love electric guitar, while black people love drums and just about everyone can love a story about trying to save a whore (see video below). But even the beatheads freaked out when they realized it was ?uestlove holding down the high-pitched lead vocals and playing the jacked up drum riffs. "That shit's impossible," said an astonished first-time Roots attendee and jazz drummer.
Black Thought kept the talking to a minimum and the energy high through a roller coaster of a set that ranged from Rock to Soul to Rap and Funk and Reggae and Jam Bands, and affirmed the Roots' claim to the title of "Best Band Ever." The show sold out in days, and the Roots are up for a few token Grammys on Sunday before touring through April. Buy those tickets now, people.
Lastly, this band absolutely sucks to write about because each show defines the word "professionalism." Crowds never hate the Roots, and rarely is there any actual drama like, say, when Jelly Donut challenged Lady Sovereign to a battle. The night's only real drama came from the audience begging the band to come back and play more music, because it's only 11:15 and we don't want to go to bed yet. The Roots obliged fans, closing the night with some funk/soul number I have yet to identify, but got it on the memory card (see below) for ya'll to figure out.
Next Up in Day-After Show Reviews: East Bay metal bands honor promoter Wes Robinson; and Mike Relm opens for Blue Man Group.
YouTube Video of the Roots doing "Roxanne":
The mystery funk/soul number: