The Roots to return to the First Ave, ?uestlove to DJ at Envy


When it comes to touring, most hip-hop acts are pretty spare. Let's do the list: there are the featured emcees, a DJ (or producer, fiddling with their laptop), and a couple of hype men who probably echo a few phrases and help make the stage look not-so-empty. But, this isn't the case with The Roots. Live, they don't rely on samplers or computers to create their groove-obsessed brand of conscious Philly rap -- they've got an extremely talented backing band built right in, complete with incredible drummer/producer Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson. Who needs a drum machine?

If that isn't enough, The Roots seem to be inexhaustable, jumping quickly from one project to the next and touring relentlessly in between studio sessions. They've shared a stage with an array of performers, from those you might expect (T.I., Jay-Z) to some that you probably wouldn't (Dave Matthews, and, um, Jimmy Fallon), but the "full band" aspect of The Roots affords them far more versatility than sample-based beats would allow. They have a clockwork release schedule, cranking out albums with no more than a two year gap between them, which keeps a vast and varied fanbase up to date with the hummingbird activity of the band. The Roots thrive in a weird place; they're an active part of modern hip hop, but also removed from it.

Even if they never release another album as immediate and accessible as 1999's Things Fall Apart (and even if the new album won't come out until Oct. 20th) , the sheer strength of their live show is enough to support a tour. They're mad scientists, using concerts as a forum for constantly experimenting with their material, taking elements of their well-known songs and retooling them live. It's a freedom that the structure of their group lends. With The Roots, you might not know what to expect, save for the fact that they'll always put on a rousing, memorable show.

The Roots - First Ave Mainroom - Thursday, July 2nd - 6 PM - 18+ - $30

?uestlove to DJ at Envy afterwards at 10:30 p.m.