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Beats, Rhymes and Hanger: The Roots Picnic 2015 In Review

When I went to the Roots Picnic for the first time last year, I knew I was going to have to make this an annual occurrence. I just had too much fun getting to see some of my favorite artists and discovering some new faves last year. This year wasn’t much different. Here are some highlights from The Roots Picnic 2015.

Opening acts:

This year we saw the addition of a third stage at The Roots Picnic. I thought this was a great idea, especially with a record number of attendees this time around. What was also great artist I went to see was songstress Donn T who was so lovely, talented, and also Questlove’s sister! She put on a good show.This year we saw the addition of a third stage at The Roots Picnic. I thought this was a great idea, especially with a record number of attendees this time around. What was also great.

Halfway through Donn T’s set we skipped over to another side stage to try and catch the last few songs of soulful singer-songwriter Marc E Bassy’s set. You may not have heard his name but you’ve probably heard a few of the songs he’s contributed to. He’s written for Chris Brown, Wiz Khalifa, and more. He was definitely an early fave.

By the end of Marc E Bassy’s set, we walked a few steps over to the early crowded main stage area to see Moses Sumney. Listen. I have already decided that every year, The Roots Picnic will have artists in three categories: One of my faves, an artist I’ve heard a lot about but have never seen, and a new artist for me to discover. Moses Sumney was my new favorite artist to discover HANDS DOWN. He reminds me a bit of Mikky Ekko. I can’t explain how amazing he was in words so here are a few shots of my facial expression that I made through his entire set.

Seriously. He won me over fast. Check out “Man on the Moon” and tell me if you don’t want him to sing you lullabies from now on.

And now for the moment we were all waiting for…. Rae Sremmurd’s “No Flex Zone”

Confession: I’m a bit of a music snob. Okay I’m a big music snob. But even I cannot deny how ridiculously catchy and likeable Rae Sremmurd can be. They put on a really fun energetic show that started off with their hit “No Flex Zone” right from the jump and the kids went AWF! They just can’t be denied.

Who Lived Up to Their Hype: Hiatus Kaiyote

Go ahead and believe every good thing you’ve heard about them because it’s all true. They KILLED! I heard a little of their music before I saw them and was hyped to hear them live. They did not disappoint.

What did disappoint however was the fact that Hiatus Kaiyote and one of my favorite DJ’s, King Britt, were scheduled to play at the exact same time. Noooooooo! I caught about half of their show and raced over to another stage to catch King Britt’s set just in time to hear the start of the quintessential house anthem “My House”. The words “Let there be house” thundered through the speakers and there indeed was a house party going on in that pavilion. It was so perfect for that summer like weather. King Britt’s set brought the party to the picnic for sure.

When Hunger Strikes

So Toya, did you get to see Phantogram/DJ Mustard/A$AP Rocky?

Let’s talk about that, shall we?

We were halfway into Raury’s set when I realized that I hadn’t eaten since breakfast and should probably make my way over to the food area before the lines were too long to bear. Perhaps the best time to have done that would have been at the very beginning of the picnic because by the time I got over there, lines were so wrapped around the food area that it was difficult to tell what line was for what and where they ended. Grant it, there were more food options this year than last but there were not nearly enough for that amount of people. On top of that, most of the vendors had heavy food like cheesesteaks, chicken fingers and fries and such. It was just too hot for that mess! I made my way to the Korean BBQ taco line which seemed to be the shortest. If the other lines were about 100 people deep, let’s say that their line was about 80 people deep.

So to answer the question did I get to see Phantogram/DJ Mustard/A$AP Rocky? The answer is no because I stood in that line for TWO. WHOLE. HOURS. Two hours! I cannot even begin to explain the level of HANGER (hunger +anger) I reached waiting in that line and I truly had no choice. Every line was bananas and there was no re-entry. Please don’t ask me if the tacos were good because I honestly don’t remember. I just wanted to eat and not “hangrily” punch anyone in the face. I sincerely hope they have some sort of food truck park next year because that whole situation was a nightmare. AND there was no Philly water ice this year??? Seriously. Something’s gotta change. This was really the only problem I had with the picnic.

Headliners: The Weekend, Erykah Badu and The Roots

With my hanger subsiding and cooler weather prevailing, I was finally in the mood to enjoy some more music. So were the additional thousand people that had suddenly arrived at the festival. It was already crowded by the time I was stuck in The Food Truck Line That Never Ends but it was packed by the time The Weekend was scheduled to perform. I tried my best to find a comfortable spot to enjoy the show but it was pretty much impossible. I managed to make my way over to the pavilion stage to watch it on the screen there.

The Roots Picnic crowd loved The Weekend. I could see them belting out words to every song he did like “Wicked Games”, “Love Me Harder, and his remix of “Drunk In Love”. Every song seemed to get us closer to the one song so many couldn’t wait to sing along with, his mega-hit “Earned It” and then it happened. Well more like it didn’t happen. The Weekend walked off the stage without performing “Earned It”. I could not believe it.

As the #WTH comments started flying as to how could The Weekend walk off the stage without performing “Earned It”, I remembered seeing a video on Instagram the night before of him rehearsing with The Roots. They weren’t the band backing him up during his set so maybe he was coming back later to perform it. I hoped so.

The mighty Roots crew hit the stage soon after with classics like “Proceed” and “Star” before Erykah Badu glided onto the stage. I’m not saying she glided onto the stage because she’s an angel, because she truly is. I’m saying that this sista literally glided onto the stage with roller skates on and blew us away with songs like “Woo”, “On and On”, “Bag Lady” and “The Other Side of the Game”. This is why she remains my favorite.

One of the cool things about The Roots Picnic is that you truly don’t know who is going to show up. The Roots and Erykah Badu used her hit “Love of My Life” to pay tribute to some classic joints in hip hop like “The Message” and “Made You Look” but then flipped the script by bringing out Philly’s own Freeway for “Rock the Mic” and YG for “My Hitta”. The crowd went bananas. We knew from then on that anything dope from that point on could happen and it did. The Lox came and completely ripped the stage for “All About the Benjamins”! This was a performance of Fred Sanford, grab your chest, “Elizabeth I’m coming to join you honey” proportions. Best moment of the picnic hands down.

Erykah Badu returned to the stage to sing everyone’s heartache in what I think is the best song of her career so far, the ballad “Green Eyes” off of Mama’s Gun. This segued perfectly into The Weekend returning to the stage to prove what I hoped I was right about: to perform his hit “Earned It” with The Roots. I couldn’t help but think about all of the people that left early disappointed that he didn’t perform the song during his set. However, those that remained sang their hearts out until the very end.

I had a great time hearing some of my favorite artists and discovering some new ones at this year’s Roots Picnic. It’s great to see how what The Roots began eight years ago has had so much success in their hometown of Philadelphia. If you ever get a chance to go, definitely go. Just get there early and jump in that food line as fast as you can.

For more about the Roots Picnic 2015, just click here.

Written by Manny King John

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