Left-wing, Left Coast denizens gathered last night at the Troubadour in Hollywood to mark the second anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Saul Williams headlined and was joined on stage by the World’s Most Eclectic House Band: Zack De La Rocha on drums, Serj Tankian on guitar and sitar, and Money Mark on keyboards. The performance, which was kicked off by DJ sets courtesy of J. Logic, B+, Nobody, Carlos Nino, Frosty, Mr. French and Soul Children, celebrated the living as much as it honored those who passed on that fateful September morning.
In an evening billed as an improvisation, Williams read from his new book, an epic peom titled “said the shotgun to the head” and sampled rhymes and musings varying from Tupac to Rakim, Thursday’s New York Times to Dr. Seuss. Backed by De La Rocha’s hard-hitting back beat and Money Mark and Tankian’s grooving riffs, Williams had the capacity crowd mesmerized. Beyond the music, each of the performers was invited to recite hand-picked poetry. Tankian read from a book of his own work, Money Mark something he scribbled down that day, but the show stopper was De La Rocha’s reading of a poem by Amiri Baraka composed shortly after 9.11.01. The all-out assault on the (mostly white, mostly male) powers that be was at times contradictory, but it summed up one of the sentiment of the evening: yes, we are angry and we grieve, but let’s not forget about other injustices that have felled mankind. Let’s not forget, that America, too, has blood on its hands.