two weeks ago i had a great little getaway that included two shows by the fantastic erykah badu. the first show was at marymoor park in redmond washington, just outside of seattle. i always get a little disappointed when artists i like play these silly temporary summer venues. the sound is never right and the crowd is generally there to hang out. i was still excited though, it was erykah badu after all. the group for the show gathered at rachelle’s house and we split into two cars, juan and i with status, and rachelle and bianca with loren. we had plans to meet up at a pub near the park that loren and status knew of, when we got there i was excited to find out that it was called the celtic bayou. i was endlessly amused by their concept of irish cajun food, or cairish as we deemed it. i ordered the northwest salad with cranberry dressing, no one makes a northwest salad like the cairish, juan also really liked his cairish pasta. don’t even get me started on their cairish nachos or veggie burger. i can’t wait till i get the chance to go back.
after the ironically delicious meal we headed off to the park. we claimed a space on the lawn right behind the chairs. the seated area was empty. we had about an hour to kill before the show, so we plopped down and relaxed. by the time the roots came on to open the show, there was still barely anyone there, including about three people in the seated area in front of the stage. one of those people was former american idol person, blake lewis, who was strangely by himself. that didn’t stop him from being the only one excited about the roots. this was the second time i’ve seen the roots, the first time also happened to be with erykah badu. i got the same impression from them, they seriously lack energy, you think that with a live band it would be easy. the band didn’t really gel, the members just played a loop for a while and seemed a bit bored. despite the best efforts by black thought and ?uestlove they just fell flat.
status and i before the show.
during the roots’ set the seated area filled up and the crowd moved in on us. we were all pretty giddy and were more than a bit antsy for erykah to come on. when the p.a. silenced and the band and back up singers came on we couldn’t have been happier. erykah came on wearing her huge afro and a red flannel suit, she was very small to us since we were behind the seating area. even with the distance i still felt that she had our full attention. the setlist focused mostly on new amerykah and worldwide underground, we heard “my people”, “amerykahn promise”, “soldier”, (a dangerless) “danger”, “times a wastin” were just part of the two hour setlist. of course she played on & on, but the highlight of the show was a fantastic afroacidhouse version of apple tree. every one was blown away by it. the song was twice the speed and had a killer drum loop that erykah produced on her drum machine. she pulled off an amazing show, her voice was top notch and the crowd loved her.
the next day rachelle, juan and i scooted up to vancouver to catch erykah at the commodore ballroom. we were all really looking forward to this show, it was indoors and a small venue. on the way up rachelle mentioned that she got an email that erykah added a second show after the one that we had tickets to and we decided that since we were driving all the way up there that we were going to try to go to that show too. we figured we would be able to ticket from a scalpler, more on that later.
before the show we hit the hotel’s bar, o’douls. for some reason i have a romantic notion about hotel bars, i blame movies and tv for making them look so alluring, when in reality they are full of drinking ugly tourists. after a drink we took our space in line outside the commodore. we only had to wait about half an hour for the doors to open, once inside we found the perfect spot, center stage about two feet back. thankfully there wasn’t an opening act, and the crowd was in great spirits. when the curtain opened we could hardly contain ourselves. the band and her (so over it) back up singers entered, followed quickly by miss badu. strangely she was wearing the same outfit as the night before in redmond. not only that but we got almost the same setlist, this time she added “tyrone” and “bag lady”. this was still a totally different show though, being inside and three feet from her made it an almost supernatural experience. she has a magnetism and charm that if it could be bottled would cost millions. she spent a bit of time mugging for the cameras, she seemed to love posing. miss badu was in amazing form, she just blew us away. you could tell she was having a blast, and loved every moment. at one point she pulled a girl up from the front and the girl spit us a few lines. she was pretty good, and had erykah impressed. miss badu played for two of the quickest hours of my life. looking back, it was some of the most fun i’ve had in a long time. the show was supposed to end at 9:30, she ended at eleven, i think she would have played for us all night long. once outside we discussed our plan to go to the second show, we all had brought extra money and knew our limit. we decided that we really didn’t want to go, we were completely satisfied.
rachelle and juan in line before the show.
i do have two small gripes though. i think that she needs to lose a few members of the live band. she is such a dynamic artist and i don’t think that a live band can match her. she needs to get herself a good live producer. her back up singers were so done being there. they looked bored and pissed the whole time. it was so obvious that i thought they might have been playing characters. if so, why?
we walked back to our hotel, to hit the bar. we were all in such great moods that we even tried to chat up the waitress, she wasn’t having it though. she gave us the cold shoulder several times and didn’t want any of our gum. after a few drinks, we headed up to our hotel room and watched crappy canadian hotel cable till we all passed out.
i would like to thank juan for coming out.
i would like to thank rachelle for motivating this musical adventure.
i would like to thank erykah badu for being an amazing performer.