Summer of Soul: The Revolution go it alone + we check in w/ the I Love the 90s Tour + two legendary turntablists DJ Shadow & Jazzy Jeff + George Clinton & more (Jun/July 2017)

Summer time is always the best time of the year full of big tours, lazy day & endless nights. Here are just a few examples of how we danced the night away all season long.

 

The Revolution - June 14th - House of Blues - Dallas, TX  

Impossible to exagerate what was at stake here (nor how emotional I was/we all were before one note was even played).
Anyone that knows me or has known me will tell you that Prince isn't ever far from my mind during his life & since his impossible to fathom passing last year. There are an infinite number of ways that The Revolution going on tour and playing Prince songs barely a year after their leader’s death could have gone badly. The hole in the center of the stage and the sound could have been too big. His absence could have made it all feel too inappropriate or, worst of all, exploitative. Or, they simply might not have been up to the task, some 30 years after they’d last played together with him, of performing those complicated, difficult songs that they used to execute with the military precision of which he relentlessly demanded. It all could have been too sad.
 

...and it was sad, but not for any of the reasons listed above - The band was razor sharp, inspired, and knew exactly what the audience wanted: a concert that was a celebration, a reunion, a public mourning — and perhaps most of all, a release. And from the very beginning of the set, The Revolution made everyone in the crowd a participant.

 

The house lights went down and the announcer said “Ladies and gentlemen, the Revolution,” just like in Purple Rain. The beat from Computer Blue kicked in as the group — guitarist Wendy Melvoin, bassist Brown Mark, drummer Bobby Z., and keyboardists Matt Fink and Lisa Coleman — walked onstage. Wendy, now the de facto frontperson purely because she’s the main singer (and the most talkative), strode up to the microphone and said, “This is about taking these songs back. Everyone’s wondering ‘Who’s gonna sing this, who’s gonna sing that’ — you are.” Then Brown Mark, playing the id to her superego, yelled, “Are you ready to party?!”

The groundswell of emotion was all around & I was contributing just as much of it as anyone there & with that nod, I along with everyone else erupted into a maelstorm of relief/release over a year/lifetime in the making.
For me personally, while I'm so grateful I got to see Prince perform literally dozens of times, but never with the Revolution. So besides a fortunate elevator ride with Wendy & Lisa at the ASCAP Expo a few years back, I've never been in the presence of these magical beings playing my fave shit ever. By song three they hit Automatic from 1999 & I thought my head was gonna explode. It also occurred to me that since this is their first & (so far) only tour without Prince that the last time these 5 people played together in Dallas was New Year's Eve 1984 as Dallas was blessed to have that legendary tour land here for a three night stand including New Year's Eve.

After a funky take on Controversy Wendy spoke about when she and Lisa wrote with Prince the song that’s become his elegy: Sometimes It Snows in April“What has happened for a lot of us, especially The Revolution, is that he lives inside of us,” She wept as she finished speaking and struggled a bit through the middle verses.

But the uplift came right away, as the band raced through the songs they and Prince would often use to close their sets: “Let’s Go Crazy,” “Kiss,” “When Doves Cry,” and, of course, a soaring “Purple Rain,” which had hundreds in the house slowly waving their hands, continuing as the band said goodnight and left the stage. Of course there was an encore, and of course it was “I Would Die 4 U / Baby I’m a Star.” And sure, everyone wished Prince were still here — none more than the people onstage.

Setlist - 

Computer Blue 
America 
Mountains 
Automatic  
Take Me With U  
Uptown 
D.M.S.R.  
Our Destiny / Roadhouse Garden 
Raspberry Beret  
Let's Work 
1999  
Paisley Park 
Controversy  
Sometimes It Snows in April 
Let's Go Crazy  
Delirious 
Kiss 
When Doves Cry 
Purple Rain 

Encore: 

I Would Die 4 U  
Baby I'm a Star

After his passing we did four separate episodes at TrickyKid Radio covering every decade of Prince's incomparable career as well as a one year retrospective. All of which you can stream/download for free here.


George Clinton & Parliament/Funkadelic - June 21st - The Bomb Factory - Dallas, TX  

Following a year of major milestones such as his 75th birthday and the P-Funk Mothership stage prop becoming a permanent display in the Musical Crossroads section of the highly acclaimed new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C., George Clinton chose Dallas as one of the places he’d throw a kick-ass concert to celebrate. 

Atomic Dog was the first showstopper of his two-hour performance, to the delight of the nostalgic crowd who demonstrated that they could still “Do the Dog Catcher,” a knee-bent, butt grinding move for his still-young-in spirit fans. It occurred to me while I was writing this that other than the obvious influence Clinton had on Prince, the last time I saw P-Funk was just a few days after Prince passed at the very venue that the Revolution played & right as the show ended, Purple Rain came over the PA system as a gesture of healing & I remember everyone stopping to sing.

The audience of a few hundred or so lost their minds (and seats) as soon as the up-tempo Flashlight instrumental dropped. Fans, who were reaching a funky frenzy by that time, poured their heart, soul, and lungs into singing the chorus and lyrics. The only cool-off the audience of OG 40 and over listeners received was during Clinton’s nonchalant, but somewhat karaoke-style delivery of the opening lines of “P-Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up).”   

Clinton played as many songs as he could from his five-decade catalog, yet another reminder of why his so-called Afrofuturistic music was deemed worthy of the historical significance that landed his time-to-move-on ceiling-descending mothership from his concert stages of the past into the African American museum along with other relics of the creation of a culture.   

(Editor's Note: This was also a monumental moment for me personally as it was a first date with my now soulmate, will love being able to tell everyone from now how our first date went. Thank George!)


I Love the 90's Tour w/ TLC, Blackstreet & more - July 29th - Verizon Theatre - Arlington, TX
 

One of my most beloved eras of music of any genre - the early 1990's that spawned so much great Hip-Hop and R&B music. 
 Absent of violence and misogyny & tons of unnecessary cursing - just timeless, inspired songs that make you dance, laugh, think & feel good. Hard to not argue the current relevancy of the lineup & that most can no longer tour successfully on their own, but bring a bunch together and it's a party and THAT's the point. Now in it's second year, this tour continues to ride a wave of nostalgia that's usually always at it's strongest in it's second decade removed, it returned with a new lineup of some of your fave R&B, Hip-Hop artists from that magical time.

So for fun (& NO ONE should take this too seriously) I thought it would be fun to assign a rating system this year.  
Now we are only really gonna be featuring bands that we haven't covered before & the scores are your basic 1-10 system (everyone gets a 10 just for getting up there) and the scores are only compared to the other bands of the evening. Meaning, this isn't an overall score throughout the universe or comparative to other acts of this genre of otherwise. In other words, let's have some fun.

Snap = (3)

C+C Music Factory = (4)

So we went last year & they paired 8 acts down to 6 which was good for length & also potency & that also means that there was really no real stinker in the bunch. They also rotate the lineups depending on which city which is pays dividends to this tour.
So the only act I'd say that noticeably not as on par with the rest were the openers C+C Music Factory, a group I didn't think I'd ever get to see live or still had the ability to perform.

But here's the funny thing: To show how little I knew I never realized that Snap is an entirely different act with like NOTHING to do with C+C!
Their hit song The Power sounds so much like Gonna Make You Sweat that I thoughts it was all the same thing & was wondering why they came out separate.

However, that doesn't change the fact that it was still as little strange that a female member of C+C came out solo & then after she left THEN Freedom Williams took the stage as the venue was starting to fill up.
Freedom joined C+C in the ‘90s as the group moved from a dance club fave to mainstream popularity with their breakthrough hits,& he performed both, along with a DJ.

Everyone who played prior to headliners TLC knew they were there to play their hit tracks and utilized their slotted 15 minutes accordingly. Maybe lacking some of the more energetic moves of their youth, but still doing the best the can with what they got. 

Tone - Loc = (6)

Who doesn't like Ton-Loc? He's as irresistable as his two early 90's hits Wild Thing and Funky Cold Medina.
His sense of humor & self-awareness & laid back attitude still in full display and he was getting down with the crowd, bringing a large percentage of the female audience up onstage with him.

 

 

Blackstreet = (9)

Sporting flashy black leather jackets to carry out their in-union dance moves, Blackstreet were the clear winners and in my opinion had it going on the most in spite of competing with TLC's big budget stage show.
Yep, they did “No Diggity,” then they brought those roses out and created a “pick me” frenzy that had the ladies going bananas.   

 

 

 

Naughty By Nature = (7)

Only my second time seeing these New Jersey legends live, the first time in a much more intimate setting where they joined me after for a great episode of TrickyKid Radio that you can stream right here.
Now in a much bigger venue in a more high profile setting they were truly in their element and came out swinging.

 

 

If I had any complaint at all is that they were the only act that seemed angry and didn't seem to mind giving off a pissed off vibe which was totally out of place given the party atmosphere & all the acts where harmless and that appeal is why they were on this type of tour in the first place.

  
There was a slight break in order to get ready for TLC, the only act that night using a live band as part of their set, and when they finally came out, after multiple DJ spins of other hip-hop classics, and awkward ads for an upcoming hip-hop cruise the ladies, their band, and four dancers took the stage.   

TLC = (8)

  Whereas last year's final act Salt-N-Pepa were the clear headliner, thanks to lit as fuck sets from Kid N Play and Rob Base it still felt like a collective reveue. This year with main act TLC (that's two girl groups in two years leading the way, how's that for girl power?) & their high-end production arena show (everyone else was playing it like a club) it truly felt like this was a TLC with just a bunch more openers than usual.
 

 

Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas looked fierce in their sleek black outfits, and they sounded even better. They went through all the hits, from “No Scrubs” and “Creep” to “Baby-Baby-Baby" and of course “Waterfalls,” with power. Their dancing was on point, with Chilli really bringing it in that department. The dance crew and band were ferocious, keeping the show jumpin’ until the end. They didn’t forget about their own deceased member, Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopes, via an on-screen photo montage spanning their years together. They also did a couple songs from their upcoming new album, which touched on themes about staying true to yourself and issues like cyber-bullying.
Good times.

 

DJ Shadow - July 22nd - House of Blues - Dallas, TX 

Been two decades since the release of Endtroducing …, DJ Shadow’s revered debut album. That trip-hop totem – painstakingly pieced together from atmospheric samples unearthed by Josh Davis’s patient crate-digging – still holds up, a seductive instrumental head trip of orchestral ennui and loamy beats. But, while Davis has moved on, embracing composition and collaboration, some of his fans have not. “If you only know the old stuff, that’s fine,” says the 43-year-old, in a surprisingly upfront introduction to this sold-out gig. “I’m just happy to be here.” 

In front of projections of deep-space voyaging and lush rainforest exploration, Davis embarks on an enjoyably bumpy safari into his current musical vision, a sort of hyper-evolved hip-hop that manages to sound both sci-fi and vintage. For the DJ, there is a distinct lack of physical downtime. Hunched over a compact decks setup, Davis is constantly in motion, making dozens of infinitesimal adjustments to various inputs, scratching up an old-school storm with enviable fluidity and periodically upping sticks to bash out samples on a drum pad.

 

 

It’s an odd sight to see as tracks from his recent fifth album The Mountain Will Fall are folded into the churning mix. Midway through, Davis drops Midnight in a Perfect World, one of Endtroducing’s goosebump touchstones, but in the form of a so-far-unreleased remix by Hudson Mohawke that progressively mutates into a nervy sonic blitz. The classic Building Steam With a Grain of Salt also gets a revamp, its chiming piano figure and breathy chorale bracingly graffitied with a wigged-out sine wave solo.  

Davis sounds completely earnest when, towards the end of this gig, he breaks off from beat-matching to address the crowd. He talks about his early love of NME and Melody Maker, and how John Peel’s championing of new music was inspirational. “Music is a healing force,” he says, and his sincerity seems to chime with the supportive crowd.  

He ends with Organ Donor, a song that already took pleasure from reconfiguring a straightforward organ passage into a hopscotching freakout, and Davis pushes the 2016 version even further, turning it inside out and sending the familiar descending figure soaring upwards into a jazzy frenzy, a flamboyant exclamation mark to cap things off. Even for those who do know only the old stuff, it is highly entertaining to see DJ Shadow make it new again.


DJ Jazzy Jeff - July 28th - It'll Do Club - Dallas, TX

Been wanting to check out this club for awhile - As a DJ myself, I'm always on the hunt for new locations that I think would be fun or a new crowd that I feel might "get" what my sets are about. When we heard DJ Jazzy Jeff was in town, the time was nigh.

 

Who better than one of the best known turntablists to introduce us to this great, very low maintanenace club? The two-hour set featured a heavy session of  mixing between hits from hip-hop, R&B, and house genres, among others. 

Some cuts that made the set include War‘s “Low Rider,” Aaliyah‘s “Are You That Somebody,” Outkast tracks like “SpottieOttieDopaliscious” and “So Fresh So Clean,” as well as some Lionel Richie, A Tribe Called Quest, Notorious B.I.G., Jay Z, Eminem, Ludacris, Talib Kweli, TLC, Toto, Tears for Fears, Will Smith (of course!), and much much more.

It’s the perfect set for the house party vibe this club gives off & we will most definitely be back, perhaps even to rock the spot myself.

Hope everyone had a great Summer!

 

Photos - 

Roy Turner
James Currie
Joshua Pickering
Jody Collins

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