Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of finally attending The Roots Picnic in Philadelphia and I was not disappointed. Even as I endured a slight case of sunburn because I stupidly forgot to wear a hat, the whole vibe of the event was amazing. Hundreds (maybe a couple of thousands?) of people from all walks of life bestowed the picturesque Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing for what was billed as the largest Roots Picnic in its 9 year existence.
I, among others of people who actually traveled for the experience had the chance to check out plenty of act I wouldn’t have normally thought about paying good money to see normally. One of those acts is Willow Smith, who is kinda out of my “age range” to appreciate her music fully. Now, I don’t think she is the greatest singer at the moment, but she is a pretty solid performer already in her young career. The accompanying band was outstanding and a special guest surprise performance of the ubiquitous summer anthem “Summertime” by her father Will Smith, joined by DJ Jazzy Jeff onstage, totally energized her set. The moment itself was one of the coolest things I’ve ever got to witness at a concert.
Another performer I was surprised to see was Zoe Kravitz and her band Lolawolf. I honestly never knew she was in a band LOL. My homies and I were confused…was it her? Was it an impostor? Thank you Google for giving us the answer! The band was pretty cool and it was a solid set.
The two biggest winners of the day in my humble opinion was comic rapper Lil Dicky, a Philly native, and Anderson.Paak & the Free Nationals. There are a lot of people that aren’t too keen on what Lil Dicky brings to the rap game but I personally think it’s refreshing. It doesn’t hurt that he can really, really rap. He brought great energy and breath control during his set, you could actually hear the bars in his verses. Every solid performance on a major event will increase his profile and legitimacy.
Right now, Anderson.Paak is my favorite live performer and it’s not even close. This guy just has “it”. In the mold of the Prince/D’Angelo template, Paak has been knocking live performances out of the park and this performance was no different. He is an amazing talent and well deserving of all the critical acclaim he is receiving.
With all of the great performances, there were sure to be some duds and there were bound to be a couple of duds. I didn’t think DMX’s performance was really great, maybe because I wasn’t really the biggest fan of his after his first album “It’s Dark and Hell is Hot”. A lot of his songs have aged horribly in my eyes. I’m a huge fan of Leon Bridges and what he brings to R&B music but man, his set kinda put some of us to sleep. Even the finale of Usher along with the Roots didnt knock my socks off like I thought it would and I would be remissed if I didnt mention the power issue that cut short Future’s set after just 15 minutes. It was going to be an amazing set too (insert sad face here) and A LOT of people came here to see him first and foremost so to say people were really pissed about this is an understatement.
Overall, the event was crazy awesome and I will definitely try to make this a yearly event to attend.
Best Performances: Paris Monster, Willow Smith, Swizz Beats, Anderson.Paak, Lil Dicky