Sunday, July 19, 2009

Q-Tip at Central Park Summer Stage!!!

Q-Tip at Central Park Summer Stage was a 20-year dream concert fulfilled yesterday. We fell in love with A Tribe Called Quest's music in the late 1980s. They were a part of the new conscience lyric and jazz inspired movement, The Native Tongues. Q-Tip - composer, producer, and lyricist - gave an energetic, soulful, and passionate performance yesterday. And it was free!

The music was set to begin at 3 PM and the doors opened at 2. We arrived at 2:45 and got discouraged when we saw the long line, but the line moved quickly and we were in the doors in no time. Most of the bleacher spots were already filled or reserved for VIP members ("folks with a lot of money"). But most of the people were sitting on the ground on their picnic blankets. We came empty handed so we sat on the ground on our tiny program guide. After about an hour and a half killing time and listening to the opening acts under the hot sun feeling like we were getting cooked like bacon, we left our spot and found comfort standing under a tree.

The show had two alternative rock opening acts that seemed to play forever. It was painful to listen to them and we know we were not the only people getting irritated. Chester French is a pop band that consisted of two former Harvard students that played some of the most horrible music we've ever heard (live or otherwise). It was bad, cornball, regurgitated music with lousy vocals. They really should have used their Harvard degrees for anything unrelated to music. Although it's great to open the minds of people to all types of music, as a Q-Tip fan, that opening act was the absolute wrong choice and quite frankly distasteful to Q-Tip fans. This group of young men sitting here had a better attitude about it by doing the best Carlton Banks impersonation to one of Chester French's awful songs. It helped to lighten the agitated mood.

And what the??? A Matsumoto shaved ice T-shirt in NYC??? Damn, a shaved ice sounded real good at that moment in the hot sun.

Finally! After waiting two and a half long hours, Q-Tip hit the stage with his shades and a red jacket that at first looked like Michael's thriller jacket from a far. He dedicated this concert in memory of J. Dilla and Michael Jackson.

Q-Tip had the crowd moving from the get go. He referenced James Brown's dance steps to Soul Power and Michael Jackson's robot moves to Dancing Machine. He then performed his essential classics: Oh My God, Bonita Applebaum, Award Tour, Scenario, Let's Ride and Find a Way. All of us went nuts when he performed these songs. People were dancing like no one's business when he performed Vibrant Thing. We're so glad we didn't get stuck in the bleachers. This was a concert where you wanted to dance with the crowd. And we were in pure happiness mode when he performed one of our favorite songs - Electric Relaxation. Q-tip's performance could not have been better and his back up musicians were also fantastic.

Q-Tip demanded crowd participation and we responded. This is old school hip hop at it's best. MC means means to "move the crowd."

The energy from the crowd was one of the best we've seen at a concert - energized but steady, everyone knew the lyrics, people swayed and moved naturally to the beats, and a lot of dancing. You could see that everyone was having the time of their lives.

Q-Tip performed an hour and 15 minute set that sped by too fast. When the music is that good, the performer is that good, the vibe of the crowd is that good, the moment feels that good, you don't want it to end. But after he left the stage for a few minutes, he came back for an encore performance and did a new song Life is Better featuring Norah Jones.

And at the end, he jumped off the stage and into the crowd below asking people to sing the words "Life is Better." He got lost in the large crowd so we couldn't see him for awhile but we could hear the people he handed the mic to singing those words as he moved along the crowd. It was the right ending that fit the mood of this concert in Central Park. He didn't pass the mic to us but the Renaissance Man stood right in front of us!

We knew when we moved to this city that we'd finally get to see performers we had been waiting forever to see; After all, some of the greatest musicians have their musical roots and inspiration from New York. It was a short performance, but Q-Tip packed a punch in that short time. The concert was free but we would have paid money for the performance he gave. And to have had this concert take place in Central Park made it that much more perfect. It wouldn't have been the same experience if he had given this performance at some dark nightclub at 1 am with a bunch of drunks. This performance was all about the love for his music, the interaction with his New York fans and his love for New York - Q-tip shouted out "New York" at least a dozen times - and the proof that quality music never fades out. (The photo below of the large crowd leaving).

One thing that happened after the concert that made us feel sick to our stomachs last night and all of today is that the video footage we shot of the entire concert disappeared into oblivion. There's no way the pictures could capture the concert and we know we had excellent footage . . . just sickening since we wanted to have his concert with us post-concert and we wanted to share the performance with you as we saw them through our eyes. The one (very short) clip we were able to find was this one from the very start of his performance.

Oh well, we'll see if any You Tube clips of the concert trickle in (won't be good as ours) and we'll post those later. We'll stop bitching about that loss because we'll never forget this concert. It was Electric.