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Review Sun Mar 18 2007

I shall...PROCEED...and continue...

First off, who would have thought a hip-hop show could actually start EARLY?

Energized by a crowd that needed no warmup, Lupe Fiasco and the Roots rocked the Chicago Theatre last night for a four hour show. The capacity crowd was in full throat most of the evening, ignoring their assigned seats except for placing jackets and coats and sitting during the brief intermission.

Lupe started before the 7:30 scheduled start, and spent an hour of show time doing selections from last year's critically acclaimed (but not that commercially successful) Food & Liquor. During his set, he spent a lot of energy urging the crowd to get louder. "Chicago, don't you let me down!" he yelled more than once, and the crowd roared in approval. None of the technical problems that plagued him in the New York show showed up. Lupe was the consummate showman, bouncing about the stage and setting up songs with stories. With remembrances of his dad bringing him to the 63rd Street beach, a cadre of African dancers, accompanied by percussion, took the stage and performed. Those who were just there for the music sat down or went to get beer, but the fact remained that both acts took chances with their stage shows.

After the short intermission, a line of brass instrumentalists paraded down the center aisle and the Roots took the stage. Known to bring other musicians onstage on tour dates, the sonic backing was brought by Jeff Bradshaw and Brass Heaven, a collection of trumpet players, Jeff himself on trombone, and "Tuba Gooding Jr.", a name that is surprising only in the fact no one seems to have used it before.

The Roots have a reputation for a lively, energetic, and varied stage show, and they did not disappoint. With the crowd fully amped, they launched into a few of their more recent songs, some with different arrangements or with a beat substitution. One of the highlights of the night was a rapid-fire medley of instrumental interpretations of current and old-school hits that had everyone gyrating madly in their limited personal spaces and singing along with the words. To hear a run at Nas' "Hip-Hop is Dead" is one thing, but "Throw Some Ds (On That Bitch)" is another entirely.

Known as "the hip-hop band," part of the Roots appeal is not only the novelty of the absence of a drum machine in much of their artistic output and the mus, but their willingness to expand and do a few things not a lot of other artists of any genre would do. Guitarist "Captain" Kirk Douglas (not this one, as the New York Times reported in their review), drummer ?eustlove, and aforementioned "Tuba Gooding Jr" performed an re-interpretation of Bob Dylan's "Masters of War." Not a lot of artists would really interrupt a rocking stage show to perform something so different, but that's part of the Roots' appeal and why their fans seem so staunchly supportive.

Through an encore that absolutely blew the lid off the place, with a tribute to James Brown and a spirited rendition of "Roxanne" that caused even the most stoic to scream right along, emcee Black Thought demonstrated the breath control and stage presence that belies the experience of someone who's done all of this before and still likes doing it.

All in all, it was a show that took chances and still brought performance excellence to a crowd that clearly enjoyed it. Lupe Fiasco made the hometown crowd proud; the Roots simply do what they do at a high level.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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