Recap and Gallery: Questlove (and Ghostface too)
April 23, 2011
Questlove lived up to his (legendary?) reputation Friday night in the city. In a set over three hours long, he kept a packed house at the Mezzanine dancing and partying till the next morning that befitted his growing reputation online.
So, tweets aside, what was a Questlove set like? An immense blend of comic timing, machine-like precision, astuteness and a dash of mischief. Never with a missed beat, with effortless blends and cuts that seem to roll off his fingers like dice. His hands, for hours straight, adjusted knobs, faders, and records with a precision that yielded no wasted movement. Songs rarely stayed on the deck for longer than a verse, but each song seemed so effortlessly picked. The man knows his music, and at times the crowd was clueless on what he was playing, other times they can’t believe he just played that.
For example, dropping Milli Vanilli was crazy enough. That tracked actually followed Eric B. and Rakim’s classic, “Paid in Full,” in a contrast I can’t think any DJ I’ve ever heard before tried to pull. And he promptly follows that up with PM Dawn. Later, he follows up Jean Knight’s funk classic “Mr. Big Stuff” with Toto’s grandiose synth epic “Africa.” I missed it myself, but Davey D noted he pulled out a record from Sesame Street. Yet, it all improbably fit, with all the crescendos, tempos and beats pieced together in ways that just seem right.
And as an added bonus, Ghostface Killah steps from backstage near closing time and does a surprise six-minute set, with Questlove doing the traditional DJ bit, manning the beats. Ghost tore the house down with an impromptu performance of “Cherchez La Ghost,” in front of a giddy audience that should have been tired from a long night.
Questlove does it again today (Saturday) in Chicago at The Shrine. No idea on what surprises he’ll bring however.