Philadelphia, a city known for its “Brotherly Love” and a hub for historical locales, has a rich culture that’s permeated through its music scene in each respective era. An annual event birthed by hometown ambassadors and accomplished Hip-Hop band, The Roots, is the present day iteration of that fact.
The Roots Picnic is the topic of conversation. Questlove, Black Thought, and company (more on that later) invaded the Festival Pier on Saturday, May 31, for the seventh consecutive year. For clarity, it’s a festival, though smaller in size and a shorter timeline than Coachella or Governor’s Ball, that is curated to fit the city’s eclectic ambiance.
Artists invaded a pair of stages pegged the “Oasis” and “Columbus,” respectively. The former is a smaller stage for new musical upstarts and familiar artists who haven’t quite reached superstar status, while the latter is reserved for the day’s main attractions.
Being one of Hip-Hop’s greatest purveyors, The Roots made sure to leave space for DJs at this Picnic. Just Blaze (w/ Freeway and Young Gunz) and Biz Markie rocked the crowd on the Oasis stage in a more traditional sense earlier in the day. The much younger AraabMuzik replicated that energy later in the night, though his instrument of choice — an Akai MPC 2500 — is a vessel for EDM rather than raw Hip-Hop.
Philly’s own Chill Moody, an up and coming MC whose Nice Things movement has become a growing mainstay in local music circles, kicked things off on the rap tip. That opened the doors for later performances by the likes of A$AP Ferg, G-Eazy and Action Bronson, the last of which wowed onlookers with his literal acrobatics.
But since the beginning, what’s differentiated the The Roots Picnic from other events of its kind is the cluster of up and coming bands it introduces to attendees. I personally became a fan of the soulful Electric Wire Hustle and Bad Rabbits. Meanwhile acts like Roman GianArthur, Emily Wells, Rudimental and War On Drugs also piqued interest based on the crowd’s reaction and incessant dancing.
Representing the larger acts were Janelle Monáe and The Roots, who brought the funk and soul with co-headliner Snoop Dogg. This made for an entertaining last few hours full of fan-favorite records and stellar instrumentation to bring this year’s show to a close.
We’d say that The Roots have another notch on their belts after last weekend’s festivities. Peep some photos from seventh annual The Roots Picnic on the following page.
Photo: Live Nation