This concert came up at the last minute, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see the legendary hip-hop trio known as De La Soul for free. De La Soul’s critically acclaimed debut album came out in the year I was born, so naturally I was slow to become a fan of theirs. I’ve known them mainly for their Grammy award-winning collaboration with The Gorillaz, “Feel Good Inc“, but recently took advantage of them temporarily making their entire discography available for free download on their website. I imagine they did this mainly for younger fans such as myself, who never got to grow up with their music.
Whenever there is a free concert, there is usually some sort of festival or special cause the artists are supporting. In this case, we were here for the AwesTRUCK Awards hosted by SoundBites, with over 25 food trucks putting their recipes to the test. Food trucks have had a growing market in the Greater Toronto Area, and events like this give them more exposure to those who may not see them all the time in the downtown core. As the name SoundBites suggests, the night was all about experiencing great food and great music.
The only other time I’ve been to Celebration Square was for this year’s Canada Day celebration, with fireworks and performances by local pop artists. This time, there was a similar diversity to the crowd with a lot of families there to have a good time. It wasn’t a traditional hip-hop crowd, but there was still a lot of De La Soul fans who knew their songs. I showed up really late, just when the hip-hop karaoke was wrapping up, and was stuck pretty far back (hence the lack of pictures). We had time to check out some of the surrounding food trucks before De La Soul came out right on time, although they had a different DJ filling in for Maseo.
The beats were too low at the beginning, but it sounded like they came out to “Bionix” before getting into “The Grind Date” and “Ooh” (with the DJ stepping out from behind the turntables to do Redman’s part). The volume quickly got adjusted to a higher level and they then got into some older hits like “Potholes In My Lawn”, “Oodles of O’s” and “Stakes Is High”. Between their songs, they often stopped the music to get some crowd participation, using the call-and-response technique and having the left and right sides compete with each other. They even explained that they don’t do typical hip-hop shows where they just go through the hits, as there seemed to be more call-and-response than actual rapping.
De La Soul did a couple tributes to some other hip-hop legends, including a Wu-Tang tribute, although it wasn’t their 2013 single “Get Away“. They also did a J Dilla tribute by performing “Dilla Plugged In” off their 2014 mixtape, Smell The D.A.I.S.Y.. De La later tested the crowd at one point by asking what their favourite day is, which of course was that very day, a Saturday. They then performed “A Roller Skating Jam Named Saturdays” before getting into the hit most people wanted to hear: “Me, Myself And I”. A lot of the parents in the crowd had their kids dancing to the 3 Feet High And Rising hit. They also performed “Buddy” off of that album, and did some more call-and-response before thanking the crowd and ending their set.
Although it was over an hour, De La Soul’s set seemed short due to the amount of time spent talking to the crowd. We had a lot of fun with their call-and-response chants and hand waving, but as a fan of their music, I would’ve liked to see more songs get performed. I was surprised they didn’t do more hits like “Itzsoweezee”, “Rock Co. Kane Flow” or even “Feel Good Inc”. I can’t complain though, as it was a free show and the food trucks seemed to be the main attraction of the event. Overall it was a fun time, and De La Soul displayed mastery when it came to reading the crowd and getting them engaged.
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