But of course, you might already know some of this if you check out PFG Express. You do check out PFGX don’t you? You really should.
As previously mentioned in these pages, I don’t really do heat, and outdoors, and the sweltering masses. What I will do, however, is free. So when Shad says he’s giving a free outdoor show as part of the Toronto Jazz Fest, I sort of need to be there.
Regular readers and listeners of RadioPFG [you do listen to Radio PFG don’t you?] will remember how quickly Mr. Kabango won my heart after I saw the video for Yaa I Get It and heard him chew the mic for for almost four minutes with no hook. It was all love after that.
I’d dragged my heels on seeing him live since I knew he liked playing with a band, and I’m sort of lukewarm to rap acts playing with live musicians, since sometimes even the best bands lack the sort of urgency I get from the actual sampled recordings. But credit where due, Shad’s trio were on point, and the soundman in Metro Square knew how to punch the drums and bass to an proper level of kick. They worked surprisingly well on most songs,but Shad didn’t try to shoehorn the band into every song if it wasn’t best for the song.
Maybe it was the weather, the festive patriotism in the air, but Shad put on one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, by anyone. Because even when he was playing a melancholic song like Telephone, he’s so damn charismatic, so happy to be practicing his artform, he makes the audience want to follow him wherever he wants to go. His show brought it back to the essence of what hip-hop is supposed to be: he cold rocked the party. Song after song got the heads bobbing, even when he spit rhymes no one knew, he was doing it over familiar instrumentals, like when he went on in ‘Close To Me’ by The Cure. Just because.
Should have kept the film running. He did ‘Creep’ by TLC after that.
Fittingly, he closed with the broke ass anthem ‘The Old Prince Still Lives at Home’, since we were all at a free show anyway. As he told the crowd, ‘It’s that stay-at-home swag.’
All told, he may have gone for less than an hour, but he just killed it. You know it’s a good show if I feel the need to elbow through a crowd to tell the guy. If you ever get the chance to see dude rock a crowd, just go, he will not disappoint.
Oddly enough, the show was not the last time I saw Shad on Canada Day, as he swung by Roots drummer Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson’s DJ set at Revival later that night.
I’ve seen Questo spin before, and while that was like attending a master’s course in hip-hop musicology, I was relieved to hear him announce he was our ‘Human iPod,’ and wanted the crowd to get dancing. And that’s what we did for the next three hours, although I will admit he seemed to go off on a late-70s/early-80s R n”B tangent that lost part of the crowd for awhile. Nothing a little Katrina and the Waves couldn’t fix. At one point a speaker caught on fire, causing the usually unflappable Thompson to exclaim, ‘That’s never happened before! We blew the speakers out!’ with a laugh.
But you know it ain’t a party until some clown-ass sucker has to ruin everyone’s good time, and no exception here. We endured the obnoxiously quartet of broads humping each other all night only to have the set came to abrupt close just before 3:00 a.m. when some fool tossed a bottle of Evian at the stage, splashing Quest’s gear in the process. Genuinely upset, Thompson lamented the TB of music he keeps on laptop, then told the crowd that was it. A tweet the next day let everyone know how that worked out.
A sour end to what was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time, and that’s not even mentioning catching Melissa McLelland and Esthero at Harbourfront, or doing an impromptu rendition of Shimmy Shimmy Ya with some Hip Hop Karaoke regulars for a crowd of families and children. A little something for everyone, friends.
I just don’t know where you kids get the energy.