The psychedelic, jazzy, swooned-out trio Digable Planets sailed onto the Gothic Theatre's stage on Tuesday evening, one stop on their twenty-date reunion tour this summer. As fans will painfully remember, Planets broke up in 1995 after making two momentous albums: Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space) and Blowout Comb, and decided to reunite this summer after all that time apart.
Backing Digable Planets at the Gothic were the Culprits, which consisted of a drummer, a bassist, a keyboardist, a guitarist and a percussionist (Tendai “Baba” Maraire, the other half of Shabazz Palaces, the new project of Digable Planets' Ishmael "Butterfly" Butler).
The Culprits and the three Digable Planets MCs — Butler, Mary Ann “Ladybug Mecca” Vieira and Craig “Doodlebug” Irving — played for an hour and a half, covering every classic from both albums effortlessly. The trio’s personalities shined throughout the evening. Ladybug Mecca’s calm yet vicious style came through beautifully, especially on the song "Jettin’." Butterfly maintained the group's cool with subtle dance movements. Doodlebug was the voice of the Planets (and the people), reinforcing the message behind the music and keeping the crowd coasting. He spoke on the importance of community and unity among people. “Spread the message of love, peace and happiness amongst the masses, amongst the classes around the world.”
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The set began with "The May 4th Movement," the intro to Blowout Comb, and was followed by "It’s Good to Be Here," the first song off Reachin’.
I took my brother Ben, who, though fifteen years younger than I, enjoys some of Digable Planets' music. I thought the audience would consist of thirty-and-older folks who grew up listening to the group, but to my surprise, Ben had some friends at the show.
The thirty-and-up crowd was definitely there, though. The guy standing in front of us was in that group, and he easily reverted to his teenage self during the show, gyrating his body and singing every lyric.
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Everyone at the Gothic last night came out of their cocoons. The worries of the world were left outside for an hour and a half as the crowd settled into a peaceful, meditative state. Digable Planets has always been able to bring about serenity and youthfulness with its music, and last night was no exception. In the words of Butterfly, “We’re just babies.”