Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Saadiq factor

All right, not to toot my own magazine's horn here, but the Time Out–sponsored show at the South Street Seaport yesterday evening was a blast. The three acts were all completely different and yet to me it completely worked, even if I have to admit the crowds changed pretty drastically for each set, showing that my utopia of a single audience being able to enjoy Endless Boogie, Raphael Saadiq and Oneida is just that—a utopia. (I always find it funny when people tell me they have really diverse music tastes because their iPod has everything from Dylan to the Ting Tings. Give me a break.)

Of the three, my favorite was Saadiq, whose set put a goofy grin on my face. I wasn't really into his first band, Tony! Toni! Tone! but I absolutely loved his second one, Lucy Pearl—a trio with Dawn Robins (from En Vogue) and Ali Shaheed Muhammed (from A Tribe Called Quest)—and his solo output since Lucy Pearl's demise has been reliably sleek and inventive. On his upcoming album, The Way I See It, he looks back at old-school R&B (Smokey, Stevie) in typically smart and classy manner. Live he was the consumate showman, natty in a perfectly cut suit and working the crowd with ease and no cheese. And hearing the Lucy Pearl hit "Dance Tonight" live was a total treat (Saadiq did it with his female backup singer).

MP3 Lucy Pearl "Dance Tonight" (from Lucy Pearl, 2000)

There was an exodus of white hipsters during Saadiq's first song; I told a friend that maybe they would have stayed if that exact same music was played by a junkie instead. Never mind: their loss.

As I said, the crowd completely turned over from Saadiq to Oneida—basically all the black people left and the white ones came back/arrived. While I like Oneida, I'm not sure starting their gig with long, instrumental VU-type grooves was a great idea. It's the kind of stuff you build toward in a set; starting with it kinda defeats the purpose. Sequencing a live set is an art, and one that's quite different from sequencing an album (one of the reasons I don't enjoy the trend of bands playing an album in sequence live).

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