De La Soul with Kenan Bell and Rhythm Roots Allstars
House of Blues
July 31, 2009
Better than: shows from performers ten years younger than these headliners.
It was interesting to see what the scene would look like for a rap act celebrating 20 years since its debut album; it seemed like it'd be the polar opposite of the Asher Roth/Kid Cudi crowd at the same venue the night before.
And, thanks to some dull opening acts, it was. At least at the start of the night.
Perhaps catering to its Southern audience, the Rhythm Roots Allstars went into a marching band-style, drum-driven ditty before the lights even went up. Joining them on stage, Cali rhyme sayer Kenan Bell started things off by thanking everyone for getting there early. He was off to a great start--but his set peaked at his song "Fruit and Veggies." Despite the lame title, the song had a great beat and Bell's lyrics rode the melody effortlessly. Unfortunately, things just went downhill from there with elementary-level hooks and rhymes and, for whatever reason, a pregnant groupie dancing on stage near the end of his set.
The second time the house lights dimmed to signal the arrival of another performer, everyone was convinced it was De La Soul. Alas, the crowd was tricked into a set by an artist from Harlem who's name sounded like "Bill Weights"--pretty apropos since one of the most hilarious things he said was, "C'mon, this shit ain't easy when you're fat."
Then, finally, after much anticipation, De La Soul hit the stage. It was a long wait, but
the rollerskating jam "Saturdays" "A Roller Skating Jam Named 'Saturdays'" broke the crowd out of its restless funk. Then came a two-song dedication to the late, great producer, J Dilla which included "Stakes Is High." And the scene quickly turned into a soulful house party during "Pass the Peas."
There's really nothing like a live show to remind you why you fell in love with a group in the first place, and De La Soul did just that on Friday night.
The sea of waving hands during "Oooh" and "Me, Myself, and I," as well as the wild, overwhelming hollering at the beginning of "Ego Trip" was proof of that.
Personal bias: As a serious De La Soul fan, I have to admit that I was a little insulted to see that this show wasn't sold out.
Random note: The backing band's bassist played Eric B. & Rakim's "Paid in Full" during his solo.
By the way: De La Soul's encore included its Gorillaz collaboration "Feel Good, Inc." and, of course, "Ring Ring Ring."