The Roots Danced Like Astronauts at the Arsht Center on Saturday, March 31

Categories: Concert Review
Courtesy of the Adrienne Arsht Center/Photos by Rodrigo Gaya, World Red Eye
Questlove of The Roots
The Roots
Adrienne Arsht Center
Saturday, March 31, 2012

Better Than: Just about anything else that was going on in Miami on Saturday night.

It was certainly the finest tuba anywhere in Miami Saturday night. Aside from for Questlove's drums, Damon "Tuba Gooding Jr." Bryson's cheeks expanded to fill the Knight Concert Hall at the Adrienne Arsht Center.

He stood at the edge of the stage, wrapped in his tuba and belting out a rumbling groove. Generations of Miamians pumped their fists over the balcony railings and flailed in the aisles of the orchestra section.

Nine months from now, Jackson Memorial's maternity ward will likely be filled with the curious low wails of dozens of half-tuba babies. These tragic mutants may be the lasting legacy of the Roots' domination of the Arsht Center on Saturday, however the short-term effect of their visit was 90 minutes of pure, uncut awesome.

Courtesy of the Adrienne Arsht Center/Photos by Rodrigo Gaya, World Red Eye
With most of the stage lights off, the show began with Bryant, Questlove, and percussionist Frank Knuckles backing Black Thought's freestyle. And once the remaining lights flipped on, the crowd flipped out.

The group played an entirely wireless set, allowing Black Thought to fully explore the stage where he rapped and sang from nearly every corner. An unplugged session also meant full-speed guitar, bass, and tuba lap-arounds. Who knew that a grown man could look so effortlessly cool while skipping and playing the tuba?

Throughout the evening, the crowd's enthusiasm never dwindled. From the moments when the Roots would "freeze" on a single note and hold position like superhero action figures, to the seamless way the group extend jams, moving in and out of songs without ever allowing the dancing to stop.

But the Roots are perhaps their own biggest fans.

Courtesy of the Adrienne Arsht Center/Photos by Rodrigo Gaya, World Red Eye
Black Thought of The Roots
Questlove wore a Roots t-shirt and during a paint-peeling guitar solo by "Captain" Kirk Douglas, the group smiled and danced more than anyone else in the Arsht Center. It's that joy and sense of play that distinguish them from just a highly proficient group of musicians; a quarter-century's deep catalog of some of the most relevant, forward-thinking hip-hop music doesn't hurt either. And, oh, that tuba!

Are tubas lighter than they look? Apparently not, because when Bryson removed his, he leapt about the stage in Arsht-worthy dance moves reminiscent of an astronaut freed from Earth's clumsy gravity.

Fittingly, the Roots ended their set with the title track off 1995's Do You Want More?!!!??! And with his arms outstretched, Black Thought bellowed, "Can you dig it?"

The answer of course was, yes, Roots, very clearly.

Critic's Notebook

The Crowd: Baseball jerseys, suits, and vests. It was not unlike the large gang scene in The Warriors.

On the Opener: Opening singer Steven A. Clark, who performed with a guitarist and DJ, deserves a special mention. He wore a wide-shouldered suit that narrowed down into something like jodhpurs and combat boots, and sang smooth but rawly syncopated R&B over a soupy mix of synthesizers and 808s. He looks a bit like Jean-Michel Basquiat, has the vocal richness of Seal's early work, and the easy charisma of both.

Personal bias: It's hard to claim impartiality when the ink of my notes is running with dance sweat.

Partial Set List:
"Can't Stop This"
"Let's Take It Back (J Dilla)"
"Mellow My Man"
"Break You Off"
"You Got Me"
"Sweet Child o' Mine (Guns 'N Roses)"
"Who Do You Love? (Bo Diddley)"
"Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin)"
"Get Busy"
"Jungle Boogie (Kool & the Gang)"
(Drum duet)
"The Next Movement"
"The Seed 2.0"
"Move On Up (Curtis Mayfield)"
"Do You Want More?!!!??!"

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Location Info


Knight Concert Hall

1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL

Category: Music

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What a terribly written review/article ... the word tuba is in there NINE times O_O ... and is it 'Bryant' or 'Bryson' ?  " The group played an entirely wireless set" ? ...  There are mic cords in both BT pics (as if it even mattered).  I don't mean to be a hater but, CMON!  Is there an editor on staff... The Legendary Roots Crew deserve a better write up. 

Jason Gloss
Jason Gloss

I hate to sound like I'm speaking so definitively but having seen The Roots perform over 7 times, not including a handful of times on the Fallon set, I can honestly say the show was a little bit of a disappointment. Something was off.

The great thing about The Roots is you always know you're going to get an action packed show. Many times they just improvise and the others they all zone out collectively. There was a bit of a disconnect on Saturday.

For starters a few band members were missing and one of the greatest things about The Roots shows besides Black Thought and ?uest is Kamal. His absence was sorely missed.

It would be equivalent to a Beatles concert in their prime and Ringo no-showed. Now, Irealize they both play different roles but Kamal is the 3rd most important element to The Roots crew. There is no question, he is their Chris Bosh.

Black Thought looked tired and sometimes bored. He completely phoned it in and by no means was he bad, he just wasn't at the top of his game.  We're talking about a top 10 lyricist of all-time here. He just wasn't that interested in doing what he does best.

I was disappointed not one song was performed off their new album Undun or even their previous album How I Got Over. I was extremely happy that they in fact performed many of their classics such as Proceed,Mellow My Man, Web and The Next Movement to name a few. The awesome surprise of the show was the breakdown period where they covered Guns N Roses to Zeppelin.

Captain Kirk is extremely talented and he had to make new fans just off that solo. Overall, it was a good show, but not great. I do hold The Roots in high regard but something just didn't feel right. The setting was great, real intimate but the sound was a little off. I do believe that place isn't a typical hip-hop venue so there hasn't been much tweaking for shows of this nature and it may have caught ?uest by surprise. Still, Black Thought wanted this night to end so he can go back to the hotel and ?uest was already on to his next club promo event mentally.

They're one of the best bands around, but tonight they didn't separate themselves from the pack and they normally do.


...any feedback on the afterparty @ Bardot?


yea it wasnt all that great. Questlove's DJ skills weren't enticing enough to keep me around for too long but the band that opened before him, The Hongs, were fantastic.

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