Like a latter-day hip-hop answer to Fishbone, the Roots
bring a palpable spirit of gathering and unity to their live shows unmatched by any of their peers. Where the most monumental of hip-hop's giants Outkast, a Tribe Called Quest, and Public Enemy made their reputations by delivering roof-raising, grab-'em-by-the-throat performances, the Roots in concert can, at times, come off like they're providing killer background music at a free outdoor show on a summer afternoon. Their easygoing groove aesthetic is legendary, but the Roots' long, drawn-out sets sometimes lose momentum. Still, if your mind starts to wander at a Roots show, consider it your
bad, not theirs. The group may not place pedal to metal from start to finish, but it does bring a wealth of material and ambition to the stage. New songs "Long Time" and "Livin' in a New World," for example, from their latest album, Game Theory
, are but two examples of how the Roots can mesmerize you with sweet melodies spiked with socially conscious lyrics. If nothing else, the band deserves to pack houses for relying on live instrumentation in hip-hop, not to mention that it walks the line between soul and rock unlike any other group since Funkadelic and Sly & the Family Stone.
The Roots perform Sunday, February 25, at Revolution 200 W. Broward Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $25 in advance, $30 at the door. Doors at 7 p.m. Call 954-727-0950, or visit www.jointherevolution.net.