3/19/09: The Roots present The Jam @ Highline Ballroom (56/100)

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Simply put: The Roots and their special guests were great. The Highline Ballroom and crowd was not.

Here’s why:

I bought these tickets way back when. Might’ve even before The Roots became the house band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. So they’ve been sitting in my desk, waiting to be used. And when my friend Ricardo and I got to the club for the show, we would have to wait a little longer. The doors were supposed to be at 10pm, but we didn’t get in until almost 11pm.

Inside, it seemed like a cool venue: nice and intimate. But the drinks, not so nice: 10 bucks for a Jack and Coke. Really? That’s the same price as the ticket. Oh, right. I’m in the fucking Meatpacking District. Doucheville, USA.

When we got there, we ran into some people from work – Russ, Crystal and Lisa – which was cool. And not too shortly after that, The Roots finally started. Also cool. The title of the night was “The Roots present: The Jam.” So it was all about them inviting friends on stage to jam with them.

First up was a few guys from Antibalas. An well known afrobeat band, according to Ricardo. I’d never heard of them (a reoccurring theme for tonight…I need to get out more.) I shot off a few pics from where I was standing, but wasn’t satisfied so I moved up to the front – having no idea what was in store for me. Holy shit, I don’t know anyone put up with the bass up there the whole night. The kick drum literally shook my entire body with every beat. Even with earplugs jammed into my ears, I had to move back after 20 minutes. I want to be able to hear after these 100 days.

The guys from Antibalas stayed on stage most of the night, as more guests/friends stepped up to jam. The only names I remember are: a guitar player from Soulive, D.C. rapper Wale and Corey Glover, former singer of the band Living Colour. But there were a lot more


When Glover came on is coincidentally when the night got super annoying (no connection). I wrote a few weeks ago how the Black Lips show felt like party I showed up to, where everyone else had used up all the drugs. But that was just a metaphor. Tonight, I think it was actually true.

For starters, there was a guy who looked like Philip Seymour Hoffman playing a creepy guy who seduces young NYU girls – and that’s exactly what appeared to be happening. It was bizarre. Here was this older looking guy with three or four young girls hanging all over him, while he was double fisted beers, and never lets the girls go without a fresh cocktail. The girls smoked cigarettes like they could, danced like they were the only ones there, bumped into me every five fucking seconds.

To keep from strangling them, I moved over towards the bar. There I was next to a guy who was so totally gone. He was holding onto the wall for dear life, and then nearly collapsed to the ground at one point. I looked in his eyes, he was in another world. Ricardo tells me later that the creepy pimp guy said, “Smells like someone is cooking” at one point. I’m guessing that was this dude by the bar. Crack? Meth? Who fucking knows.

Ok, so I’ve got a weird, Philip Seymour Hoffman/pseudo pimp/pedophile guy to my right, and crackhead to my left, so I take a few steps back…and run into a big, meathead guy’s stiff leather jacket. I look and he’s got his back turned to the stage. That seems like a weird way to watch a show, but whatever.

Eventually all of these insane people disappeared and I could relax. Just in time for show to come to an end. Fine, I don’t care anymore. I just want out. But, of course, not without a fight as some asshole lowered his shoulder into me as I pushed toward the door. And I yelled “get the fuck out of the way!” But didn’t turn around to see if he heard me. I just looked back at Ricardo as got outside, and said, “What the fuck just happened in there?”

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