My body is still throbbing from my blistering hike around Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia. Telling you that “the Roots Picnic was hot” is an understatement. Not only was the searing weather toasting my skin, but the performances from the eclectic mix of artists were on fire. The temperature peaked to 88 degrees soon after Rae Sremmurd’s 2 o’clock performance had ended. By that time, I wasn’t even paying attention to the heat. I was focused on absorbing the music and vibes that would be the soundtrack to my first time at the 8th annual Roots Picnic.
It’s been a while since I’ve experienced a concert that was so calm and culturally diverse. It must have been the assorted line-up of artists like rising talent Raury, reggae band Chronix, and electronic rock duo Phantogram who banded fans of the various music cultures together. The music from each of these gifted artists played in the background as I scoped out the perimeter. Since both stages faced each other, I wandered back and forth from the Harbor stage where Raury was rocking out with his live band to the front of the Pier stage, which was covered in a haze of smoke during Chronix’s Rastafarian performance. Once their set ended and Phantogram took the stage, I wandered off to get a beer when a familiar, ‘80s melody infiltrated my eardrums and enticed me to continue walking.
Afrika Bambaataa was in the middle of his set at the Oasis stage and there were plenty of other ‘80s babies jamming out to his early hip-hop/dance beats. He had just mixed in “Planet Rock” when I made my way through the crowd to a spot with breathing room. In the short time I was there, the face of the Zulu Nation had fused songs like “Looking For The Perfect Beat” and “Play At Your Own Risk.” The nostalgic vibe was strong under that tent. I ran into some of my cohorts from The Source Magazine, who were on their way to catch A$AP Rocky in his first show since releasing A.L.L.A. last week.
At this point, I was depending on my cold beverages and the sporadic gusts of wind to cool me down. Since the sun’s rays were still beaming down hard, I found a spot amongst an oasis of people who had the smart idea to lay out blankets to lounge on during the show. The turn-up got real once DJ Mustard took over the Harbor stage. Everyone started dancing once he played every song he’s ever had his hands on from Big Sean’s “IDFWU” to Omarion’s contagious new single “Post To Be.”