Through its impressive 5-month run this year, SummerStage has really felt like the heart of Central Park. On its final night, though, it was definitely the soul. As the autumn chill made its inevitable debut, The Roots warmed up the weather with an unreal run-of-show and an old school kind of love.
It’s not the first time a SummerStage night has turned into a full-blown festival of guest artists and unexpected acts. After neo-soul hero Marsha Ambrosius killed it with some operatic dissing, her fellow openers were soon back for more. Bilal threw down with The Roots on “The OtherSide” and “Back to Love,” and Talib Kweli guested with Common on “Act Too (Love of My Life).” As if the crowd wasn’t spoiled enough, surprise appearances from CeeLo Green (keeping the green theme on Al Green’s “Love and Happiness”) and Salt-N-Pepa (destroying, you guessed it, “Push It”) made the show unforgettable.
If The Roots didn’t invent cool, they certainly perfected it. Under the golden shimmer of brass and sunglasses, they tenderly tore up tracks like “Table of Contents (Part 1 & 2)” over Questlove’s slick rhythm. Sinking beneath Black Thought’s wicked verse, the 11-piece group sounded as smooth as a solo act.
From the sexy pulse of “Respond/React” and “What They Do” to the mind-altering funk of Kool & the Gang’s “Jungle Boogie,” The Roots literally did not stop until they were finished. If it were up to us, they never would be.
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley