Better Than: Your brain on drugs.
Erykah Badu has always been one of the more transcendent figures in popular>"/>
Review By Katie Bain
Better Than:Your brain on drugs.
Erykah Badu has always been one of the more transcendent figures in popular
music. From the time she first told us to call Tyrone, Badu has been R&B's respect-commanding spirit women, a musical soul goddess who oozes sex appeal via her
deep wisdom and the ability to sing her ass off.
All the same was true on Friday night at the Paramount Theatre. Here
Badu performed with The Cannabinoids, a new project that is the self-
proclaimed "musical exploration of the science of addiction." This, according to
the group, has to do with the brain's receptors and the "sensational reaction created
when the synthetic combines with the organic," but all high-level talk aside, the group
sounded tightly excellent. It was an electrofunk synthesis with Badu at the center
and eight Dallas-based musicians sprawled across the stage on four drum machines,
six keyboards, three turntables, a theremin, and eight laptops. The result of this
convergence of old school instrumentation with new school technology was more or
Presented as part of the Decibel Festival,the set included old school Badu favorites including "On and On" in addition to work from the group's forthcoming LP. The music ebbed and flowed, with some points being deeply hypnotic and others slightly less engaging, with the overall sound getting deeper and more richly layered as the set progressed.
Badu was a commanding presence at the center of the stage. Dressed in pink neon
leggings, three inch black vinyl boots, a black fedora and jacket, she stood next to a
giant plastic brain and intermittently played a beat machine while singing her ass off
to the engaged crowd. The music's electronic element was subtle and felt primarily
placed in the juicy bass that reverberated throughout the venue, despite the fact that
the Paramount's sound system didn't seem entirely equipped to carry the fullness
of the sound. The theatre, half empty at the beginning of the show, saw a mid-set
crowd swell and was filled nearly full by the last song. Inside it was sweaty-hot,
which added to the dance vibe that found clearly engaged fans getting down from
the front row to the back of the theatre.
The music was tight in its musicianship and loose in its presentation, eventually
evolving into an all-out jam that reached its funky peak during the group's cover of
Chaka Khan and Rufus' "Tell Me Something Good."
"Raise your hands up if you love yourself," Badu commanded as a sea of arms reached towards the ceiling. "You've got to believe in a brighter day, and not just because I tell you to." It seems that self love and personal evolution are the primary addictions Badu is exploring with this concept project. This ethos was exacerbated by the show's visual element, which was rich with new consciousness symbology - pyramids, grids, sacred geometry and a bionic heart, which ultimately seemed to be the symbol of what the Cannabinoids' ethos is all about, better vibes through synthesis of technology and soul. Was this lofty goal achieved? For a few hours on Friday night, yes, certainly.
Personal Bias: "What Would Erykah Badu do?" is an often-used mantra.
The Crowd: electic, funky, a touch rowdy and down to dance
Random Notebook Dump: esoteric wisdom + technology = the future