A purple mic, a red thermos (most likely filled with tea), an apple laptop (or maybe 2), a drum, some background singers, bass player, rhythm guitar, drummer, key boardist, deejay, a drum machine, mirrors in the back of the stage creating a 3-deminsional view of the band; these things created the Erykah Badu "Live" Experience.
My intention when electing to attend this concert was to see The Roots, a unique hip hop band from Philly who was the opening up for Eyrkah Badu last Saturday night at the Chicago theatre. But, after a dismal showing (by The Roots) and then a 45-minute interlude(?) and finally Erykah, I was thoroughly engrossed in the Badu experience; this was not just a concert, but an anthology of current, past, present, and future, all creatively orchestrated into a complete entertainment experience. It was Erykah’s background in theatre that made Saturday night less like a concert and more like an artsy-eclectic-film noir-underground-movie-house-type-gig with an audience just as diverse as the performance itself.
It could have been her drum machine interludes where Erykah created heavy beats on the fly while the band inserted itself seamlessly to create harmonious sets. Or, perhaps it was her pauses for a sip of tea then a click on her iTunes to run a song she digs that lead to a queue of the band for the next song. Or, maybe it was her physical play of the songs that birthed the organic aroma of the night. On second thought, maybe it was her climb down into the trenches of the crowd, putting herself among the enterainment recipients of the night, becoming not only the driver of the night, but a passenger as well. In the end, it was the blend that made the night; keeping the audience on their toes, not aware of what was coming next, while encompassed by the now, and totally oblivious to time, a recipe for success.
In an a society starving to be moved, this concert was a hybrid entertainment vehicle that is leaps ahead of any concert on the circuit right now…a truly wholisitc production that is not only entertaining, but socially responsible. Hopefully this is the new trend, as the mark has been set high by Badu.