It’s a cool night in Toronto and the air is filled with chatter, which resembles the buzzing sounds that those who have been tuning into the World Cup games have become familiar with. Tonight however, the main event is not a soccer match, but rather, The Roots’ highly anticipated gig, which is part of the ten-day-long TD Toronto Jazz festival.
The crowd is at capacity underneath the large white tent in the middle of Nathan Phillips Square, but this does not deter passersby and ticket-less fans alike from taking in the show. In fact, those who were either unable to get tickets or thought it more economical to find a place beyond the small iron fence, watch from a distance and bask in the fact that their view of the stage is both unobstructed and free of charge.
As members of the band make their way onto the stage, the crowd is no longer seated and the muffled chatter has turned into loud, unapologetic screams. It is not however, until Tariq “Black Thought” starts yelling “T-Dot,” that the crowd erupts into an all out frenzy. After all, anyone who has ever attended a concert knows that the host city will always try to rep their spot the hardest.
To the crowd’s delight, the band performed an array of their hits including “Here I Come” from the album Game Theory, “The Next Movement,” and of course, their biggest record to date, “You Got Me,” off of the album Things Fall Apart, which was released in 1999. However, the highlight of the night might have been QuestLove’s drum solo, which drove fans absolutely bananas, as was evident from their loud cheers and headache-inducing head banging. There is simply just something about the way he beats the drums that makes your heart race, giving you a sort of euphoric feeling, while the sounds reverberate against your eardrums.
With a mix of Rap, Rock, Jazz and Blues, it is quite easy to see why the band chose to call themselves The Roots—their eclectic style takes the listener on a musical journey through time, with a style unmatched by just about any other live band, Hip-Hop or otherwise.
Though the show was simple and had none of the flashy pyrotechnics that tend to be a huge part of concerts nowadays, the performances themselves surpassed my expectations. With most Hip-Hop/Rap performers singing over recorded tracks, it was greatly pleasing to see musicians playing their own instruments with so much heart and vigor. If this performance was in any way indicative of the sort of show The Roots put on each time they hit the stage, it’s clear to see why they were chosen to rock Toronto alongside the likes of Maceo Parker, Herbie Hancock, and Mavis Staples.
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