The Roots Get Down in Style at the All IN Super Bowl Party in Paradise Valley

The Roots perform at All IN magazine's Super Bowl party in Paradise Valley.
The Roots perform at All IN magazine's Super Bowl party in Paradise Valley.
Amanda Ventura

The Valley didn't want for ultra-exclusive and high style parties during Super Bowl weekend. And some of the bigger soirees were put on by poker publication All IN magazine, which hosted three days of Super Bowl parties at an undisclosed home in Paradise Valley sitting on five acres and reportedly valued at $10 million.

It wasn't lacking in style of celebrity guests, including a performance by hip-hop legends The Roots on Friday, January 30. Tickets ranged from $600 to $1,000 a pop and the location was kept secret. Party guests were asked to drive to Paradise Valley church, park their cars and hop on a shuttle that would ferry them to the home. Neat.

Upon arriving, guests could help themselves to a mashed potato bar and red beans and rice with some champagne. It was a surprisingly good pairing.

The outdoor party was relatively chill, despite the hyped up celebrity talk. (George Clooney was not there. Though actor Craig Robinson (a.k.a. Daryl from The Office) and a comedian who wasn't Jimmy Fallon took the stage with The Roots for a bit. The latter even performed a strip tease to the immense sadness of my eyes (which couldn't look away).

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On the shuttle, I sat next to two friendly former NFL players and a talent agent. Questlove even roamed through the middle of the crowd on his way to the white tent where The Roots were set to play. It was a different scene, though not the Gatsby-esque mansion party I had imagined with the level of security and exclusivity being promoted.

The concert, held in a white event tent, was the whole point of the Friday night party. Even casual fans of The Roots or people who only knew them through affiliation of Jimmy Fallon could get behind the show. The only difference is that people who think they know The Roots from The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, would be pleasantly surprised by the versatility and mobility of the band.

(Editor's note: It wasn't the only performance by The Roots during Super Bowl weekend that was hard to get in to, as their gig on Saturday at Verizon Super Bowl Central was packed to capacity and Sunday's broadcast of The Tonight Show was completely sold out.)

The three-time Grammy Award winners don't just play hard, they work the crowd like nobody's business. They jump around, have semi-synchronized dance moves, chat with the crowd between songs and have a good enough time that it doesn't matter what's going on in the crowd.

Anchored in The Roots' original hip-hop songs, the set list also nodded to everything from Led Zeppelin covers to Kool and the Gang and Top 40 hits. It was a dance party from start to finish.

The Roots in concert.
The Roots in concert.
Amanda Ventura

Front man Black Thought (a.k.a. Tariq Trotter) is astounding. He raps so quickly and articulately. While his skill is evident in recordings, there's just something hypnotic about seeing that kind of vocal shredding live. Damon "Tuba Gooding Jr." Bryson has the agility of a punk guitarist, despite being wrapped in 35 pounds of brass. He even "walked it out" in the crowd without mauling anyone and picked Questlove's pockets with grooviness.

It was keyboardist James Poyser's birthday, and he did briefly play the "Thank You Note" song from The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Questlove (Ahmir Thompson) was the stoic half of animated percussionist Frank Knuckles. Guitarist Captain Kirk Douglas was charismatic, dynamic, goofy, talented, a total ham and insanely fun to watch. He has Flea's weirdness with Jimi Hendrix's finesse and showmanship. Every single member of The Roots is a performer -- and talented.

The set lasted more than an hour and even though the crowd wasn't completely mirroring the kind of energy the band was sending out, The Roots just kept it coming in waves. The Roots seemed determined everyone left feeling just a bit more alive than when they entered the tent. I know I was.

Critic's Notebook:

Over the Weekend: The Roots at All IN magazine's Super Bowl party in Paradise Valley

The Crowd: Smartly dressed, 20-something to middle-aged professionals, athletes, hidden celebrities

Personal Bias: I follow Questlove on Instagram, and would love a chance to nerd out about old hip-hop with him, maybe even raid his record collection. Also, I tried really hard to win tickets to see Fallon in Phoenix just to see The Roots. (Three minutes! They got reserved in three minutes!)

Overheard in the Crowd: "Oh my gosh, it's Lorde."

Random Notebook Dump: A few people thought my friend was Lorde. Even though she denied it, she still had photo requests. That's how convinced people wanted to be that this party was rife with disguised celebrities. Isn't Questlove enough for you people?

Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.

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