What do Hanson and The Roots have in common? They play their own instruments. Every Geffen press release and Source hand job fawns over the band's instrumental skill as if that were evidence enough of genius. But this is hip-hop, people. Who cares?
Anyone who has ever bumped it up and backed it down at a Roots gig, that's who. Twelve years after take-off, the brainy Philadelphia pack still throws the mightiest live joint in hip-hop, and not because their rig includes more amps and toms than video cameras. The Roots aren't Luddites. Their last album, The Tipping Point, starts by defamiliarizing role model Sly Stone, then dabbles in electro-clash, ersatz dancehall and even the micro-rhythms of grime before slamming back to their signature noggin-bobbing swing. Rapper Black Thought passes fatties and Cohibas, then triangulates Bush's perpetual war, inner-city gun play and hooks that kill, even if somewhat conventionally ("I don't care as long as the bass line's thumping.... One false move and I'll blow you away"). The Roots remain neo-trad and neo-soul at heart, but onstage they're like neo-nothing you've ever seen.
Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $16 to $21; call 314-726-6161 for more information.