The Black Pumas emulate the spirit of the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival

Austin-based duo the Black Pumas played a delightful show at the MO Lottery Stage for the 2019 festival.

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For Columbia’s most beloved music festival, the Black Pumas bring their agile vocals and magical blues from the heart of Texas.

Despite unfortunate weather closing the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival early Saturday night, the afternoon still presented several acts worthy to take note of. Before the Black Pumas took the stage at 4 p.m., the MO Lottery stage area was wide open— open enough that children were doing cartwheels freely in the grass. In the distance, a Ferris wheel was set up and facing a perfect view of the stage. However, there really was no such thing as a bad view in the vicinity.

The Black Pumas did a quick soundcheck before starting, with lead singer Eric Burton nonchalantly riffing into the microphone while holding a drink in his hand. He made a few brief comments to the backup singers about the hot afternoon, and just like that the band escalated into a soulful number to kick off the show.

Adrian Quesada, the Grammy-award winning producer and guitarist, stayed in the same place for the majority of the show and blended in with the rest of the band, wearing a colorful button up and a beret. The Black Pumas were highly interactive with the crowd in front of them. During the poetically cheery song “Old Man,” fans were encouraged to sway side to side. At one point, Burton even hopped off the stage to sway with the people in the front for a moment.

As “Know You Better” started to play, Burton checked in with the crowd and said, “People of Missouri, do I still have your love? I feel it.” The classy number began to crescendo when backup singers started ad-libbing to the keyboardist’s organ until Burton belted out a shrieking high note with incredible precision.

The set cooled down into the sultry number “Black Moon Rising,” with the melody accompanied by a steady drumbeat. The couple in front of me tangoed to the track while the crowd started to accumulate. Nobody seemed pushed together and everyone was comfortable in each other’s space.

Before playing a cover of Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City,” Burton had the crowd repeat the chorus back to him phrase by phrase, which made him “feel like a preschool teacher.” Coming after this was the rock and soul mix “Fire,” a song with empathetic lyrics layered over upbeat instrumentals.

As the sun came down, Burton brought out a guitar of his own and softly faded into “OCT 33” with only the organ playing by his side. This mellow and harmonic track flowed beautifully over the crowd. To wrap up their act, the Black Pumas ended powerfully with “Colors,” a delightful track about unity in which the lyric, “It’s a good day to be a good day for me” was crisply sung in a cappella. Quesada even had a guitar solo during the performance. Burton sang the last line of the song in a pure falsetto, and the Black Pumas then said their goodbyes.

The afternoon lineup was far from disappointing and another success in the books for the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival. Happiness was the look on all the faces I saw, whether it was the mother eating popcorn with her son or the man next to me who danced like nobody was watching. The Black Pumas proved to be a perfect mix of old-school R&B and modern-day soul that united many walks of life in Stephens Lake Park.

Edited by Janae McKenzie | jmckenzie@themaneater.com

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