Last week, the drummer known as Questlove (often spelled “?uestlove”) visited Portland as part of Soul’d Out Music Fest and delivered a high powered DJ set to a packed house at Alhambra Theatre. With no advance info on the openers, I was eager to show up on-time to see if any locals were holding it down. Since one event invite said doors opened at 8 and another said 9, I decided to live on the edge and show up at 9:10. I only had to wait about 15 minutes for the doors to open. Within about an hour the building was approaching capacity.
While waiting for the show to start, I finally got a chance to meet Anael, whom I’ve covered for WOHM in the past. Also met a fellow who goes by Gold Hooks. Nice fella, he contributed the pics for this article.
It wasn’t till rather late into the night that it dawned on me that while I usually see Questlove as a hip-hop figure, he’s really a soul musician. After a last minute pre-order rush combined with a strong number of walk-ups created the surge needed to all but sell out the performance, a three piece ensemble teamed alto and tenor sax players with a drummer for a rousing opening act. I couldn’t find anyone who had even a clue who the band was… Same for the hype man who held Questlove down for the entirety of his DJ set.
Same for a large number of people in the crowd. Definitely not the usual suspects at hip-hop events, not even the same folks at say a Dookie Jam. No, these were jazz concert in the park type attendees. You know, the type you have to keep an arm’s distance from in case of random body motions they call dance moves. And that’s when my bubble burst. See, all this time, I’ve seen Questlove as a progressive figure/leader in Hip-Hop culture and always associated his work with the underground movement; in other words, I thought Questlove was “a Black thing”. Responses to my Twitter pondering quickly set me straight. I should have known better.
Never knew so many white folks loved Questlove…
— Dolla Bill Smitty (@MacSmiff) April 17, 2014
Surprisingly surprising demographics aside, Questlove danced between blues to jazz to hip-hop to pop as he kept the buzzing crowd on their feet for a couple of hours. His knowledge of music evident in his song selection, he also impressed as a turntablist, demonstrating some strong deconstruction skills in the middle of a hip-hop tangent. The crowd was very receptive and there were people dancing everywhere. I learned new things and had a great time. I’d say the night was perfect, if I hadn’t managed to lock my keys in my car.
Oh well… $120 later… #OutHere