The intro to “The May 4th Movement Starring Doodlebug” began playing and it felt like the room was holding its breath. Though this wasn’t the first time Digable Planets rejoined after splitting in 1995, those opening horns marked the first time many were seeing them perform in years — which was easy to forget.
The way Craig “Doodlebug” Irving, Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler, and Mary Ann “Ladybug Mecca” Vieira sauntered into those crimson lights, one would think they never left. “One time for your mind, two times for Mumia, Sekou.” Time’s definitely passed — as Butler’s salt-and-pepper beard shows — yet the legendary trio wore their age like floss. “Three times for my Brooklyn dimes, seven times for pleasure.”
This was just the second stop on their 2016 reunion tour, which was first announced in April. For their ESSENCE set, the three performed tracks from all of their albums, including “Jettin,” “9th Wonder (Blackitolism),” “Nickel Bags,” and “It’s Good To Be Here.”
If there were any residuals of the creative differences cited in ’95, it wasn’t apparent. “When we split up, it was more about changing directions in life and creativity rather than about having problems with each other,” Butler told Pitchfork last month. “The friendship is still there, so whatever obstacles we had are easy to jump over.”
In that light, Butler seemed present and happy to be home, stealing moments between verses to smile and absorb the vibe. Irving mostly chilled in the cut, but commanded attention the few times he took front and center.
It was ultimately Vieira who shone the brightest. Her presence was magnetic when she entered the spotlight. Gazes followed her every move, and the bliss that fervently bubbled beneath the crowd’s surface throughout Digable’s set finally burst at its seams when she stepped up during “Rebirth Of Slick (Cool Like Dat).”
It was good to be there.
SOURCE: Instagram, Pitchfork | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty