Watching RJD2 perform songs off of his 2002 debut album, Deadringer, basically made me feel 17 again (couldn't help myself, not sorry). This doesn't really happen to me anymore, as the last time I felt younger (in a good way, and not in a sad "old trick at the club" way) while at a show, I was seeing Raphael Saadiq in 2009 during his The Way I See It tour, and I was reduced to the same adolescent screaming puddle of hormonal and melted "I would" that is usually, and more appropriately, suited for Tyrese concerts circa 1998. This is all just to say that the opening notes of "Smoke & Mirrors" does something to me, chemically. Aural time travel is always my favorite kind.
I went with my brother, which was delightful, but it was extra special because we were also there to see the amazing Chuck Palmer accompany RJ during both his solo set and his opening performance with Icebird, his new collaboration with musician Aaron Livingston (of the Philly based band the Mean, and this Roots' jam). Chuck is the older brother of our good friend Max, and if pressed, I'd say I could really only compare his drumming style to this:
Chuck and RJ went to high school together in Columbus, Ohio, and have been jamming off and on since then, which was evident during the second half of the show, when RJ took to his four turntables and Chuck joined him on his third song (he had opened with "A Beautiful Mine," a.k.a. the Mad Men theme song, and came out post-Icebird wearing a robot jumpsuit with a welding mask, and some sort of Vocoder attached to his crotch that he kept spinning). Their timing and energy worked beautifully together, and it was great to see/hear these songs get a live boost via Chuck's percussion, especially on "The Proxy" and their stellar encore, "Good Times Roll Pt. 2."
Icebird's debut album, The Abandoned Lullaby, which was released that day, is a nice blend of psychedelic funk, and the band, which features Livingston on vocals/guitar, Chuck on drums, a bassist, second guitar player and RJ on keys/Korg, had one of the best live vibes I have seen in a long time. The fun they were having was not only obvious, but contagious: when they came back out for their encore after RJD2's DJ set, they treated us to the best cover of Kelly Rowland's "Motivation" that I will ever hear, as Livingston laughed and said, "I could do this shit all night."