Gym Class Heroes, Estelle and the Roots
Wednesday, October 8
Fillmore Miami Beach
Better than: Reading Okayplayer.com for news on the Roots.
Last Night, the Fillmore Miami Beach was alive and drenched in abstract hip-hop. Putting Gym Class Heroes, the Roots, and Estelle on one line-up guarantees that there will be something for everybody as they all approach hip-hop in a different way.
Before I fully get into this review, I'm stumped as to why this show had to start at 7:30 p.m. sharp. I don't like when black shows featuring black musicians start at non-black times, like 7:30 p.m. Balk at that if you want to but it's true. The last time the Roots were in town opening up for Erykah Badu, they were off the stage by 8:30 p.m. sharp and so many people complained that they drove all the way to Boca, and missed the Roots.
I can identify because last night, I drove all the way to the Fillmore, showed up at 8:20 p.m, and had already missed Estelle. I wasn't a happy camper about that, but I did notice how sparsely attended the show was a that point. There were maybe 600 people in the venue even though capacity is 2,500, and the curtain was drawn at the halfway point in the audience so that it wouldn't look so empty.
Things eventually got better once Gym Class Heroes dove into their set. Lead singer, Travis McCoy, was as appreciative as ever for the folks in attendance and said, "We're just a bunch of nerds from upstate New York so thank you for supporting us so much."
A lot of the songs they played were from their 2004 album, The Papercut Chronicles, and the crowd knew a lot of their words to songs like, "Simple Living" and and "Paper Cuts." The band didn't really get popular with the MTV crowd until their follow-up album, As Cruel As School Children, and Travis seemed surprised the crowd knew their older material.
Not everyone there was a fan of the group however. At one point in the show, a contingency of audience-members started chanting, "the Roots, the Roots, the Roots," over and over again and were flashing their middle fingers at the band too. It was unfortunate 'cause the group played a good set of music. But GCH will always have haters and Travis smiled at 'em and kept going.
As luck would have it, Estelle came back out (Thank God) and performed her song "I'm Innoncent" with the band and she had everybody cheering and yelling for her to stay longer. Probably cause folks missed her set and wanted to see her. After that, the band played "Shoot Down the Stars" "New Friend Request," and "Clothes Off" which got everybody dancing and feeling good.
Before the Roots came on, I was thinking to myself, this is going to be interesting. The energy level in the building was sort of blah despite a decent GCH's set and security wasn't helping by jostling with the audience over who could be in the pit. Plus the venue was by no means sold out and this was actually the least attended Roots concert I've ever seen. So I'm thinking, if the Roots are as good of a band as I think they are, they're gonna have to find a way to transcend all of this. Sure enough they did.
The set started out a little slow with the track, "Get Busy" off of their latest album, "Rising Down" and then eventually got better as they started delving into older songs like "Step into the Realm" and "Mellow My Man." The show got a real boost when the band started playing the beat to Lil Wayne's "A Milli" with their instruments. I'm just impressed that they could even play "A Milli" and was caught off guard as Black Thought started saying, "I heard Lil Wayne is in the building tonight, but I don't believe it." Now I'm thinking wait, 'Lil Wayne does live in Miami, but nawww, dude isn't gonna come out.' Then Black Thought said it again. "I heard Lil Wayne is in the building, but I don't believe that shit."
And sure as shit, Lil Wayne hit the stage and rapped "A Milli" word for word. The crowd went nuts as this was going on and even the band was cracking up at the crowd's reaction. Wayne's was dressed in an Adidas track jacket and cargo shorts, and when he upzipped his jacket, he had on two iced out chains around his neck that made the crowd cheer even more. Hey, it's Miami and people like to see that. Wayne seemed humble about being able to perform with the band and pointed at drummer ?uestlove in particular with a smile.
After that, the energy was right where it needed to be and on a night where it seemed impossible to make everyone happy, the Roots did it.
Personal Bias: The Roots have played South Florida three times in the past 12 months, and if you count ?uesto's DJ set at B-Live at Bayfront Park, that makes four. I love 'em, but damn.
Random Detail: For those that pay attention to these kind of things, ?uestlove was NOT wearing his own sneakers for some reasons. The random Nike's he did have on were pale in comparison to the Air ?uestos.
By the Way: The Roots played "Sweet Child of Mine" by Guns N Roses..now how many hip-hop bands do you know that can do that?