Trippin' On The Smokin' Grooves Tour

Cypress Hill do their thing at Smokin' Grooves fest. Photo by Jay Blakesberg.

The Smokin' Grooves tour stopped at the Meadows

Amphitheater in Hartford, CT on Sunday (Aug. 4), bringing electric performances

by such cutting edge hip hop acts as Tribe Called Quest, Fugees, Busta Rhymes,

and Cypress Hill.

Truth be told, I've been pretty disappointed with the

live performances by my favorite hip hop groups in the past, but the quality of

the shows were often affected by circumstances beyond their control (one

show by A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul, for instance, was wrecked by a

sound

guy who played Bad Company between sets and whose PA couldn't handle the bass

needed to sustain their show). This, coupled with the fact that I pretty much

can't stand festival concerts (as an irritated survivor of two Lollapalooza

shows I swore to myself never to attend one again--no matter who

plays), I

was pretty skeptical as I walked to the amphitheater past the largely white

suburban audience kicking back beers and smoking pot in the parking lot. It

seemed that this audience could have been plucked from a Henry Rollins show

(or fifteen years ago, a Sammy Hagar concert). My mood deteriorated as I

screamed through the plate glass window at the apathetic box office employees

who lost my tickets as I melted, waiting in the 95 degree heat for nearly an

hour.

But once my tickets were found and I walked in to the venue, all

negativity on my part dissipated as Q-Tip, Phife and DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammed

took the stage and ripped through songs from all four A Tribe Called Quest

records. Unfortunately the relatively short set included very little from their

excellent new album Beats, Rhymes and Life, but despite this minor

complaint their set was shit hot, proving that even with just two turntables

and a microphone they could match the energy produced by any rock band. Q-Tip

and company ran through such hits from their first album as "I Left My Wallet

in El Segundo," "Can I Kick It?" (yes they could) and "Bonita Applebum" (from

which the Fugees sampled for their version of "Killing Me Softly").

After

their performance of "Award Tour" from 1993's Midnight Marauders, all

hell broke loose...

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