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The Roots Return to Philadelphia to Host Their 4th Annual Picnic


Mother Nature smiled upon The Roots  last Saturday, June 6, when they returned to Philadelphia to host their fourth Picnic at the Festival Pier. the roots picnic 2011One of Philadelphia’s musical success stories, the band invites different artists to share the stage.

The following acts appeared on the main festival stage: Local DJ, Railbird, Little Dragon, The Dismemberment Plan, Ariel Pink, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, Esperanza Spalding (with members from the Roots), Wiz Khalifa, Nas and headliners The Roots.

The Vitamin Water uncapped tent featured up and coming acts including: Young Vipers, OCD/Reda, Donna T, Hank & Cupcakes, T Millz, Nicos Gun, Yelawolf, DL J. Period-Black Thought, Mac Miller and Man Man.

I missed Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes when they played at last year’s Coachella Festival, so I was looking forward to seeing them here.  I had seen one of the La Blogotèque videos, so I knew they were a happy, ramshackle band.  The opened strong, but unfortunately singer Alex Ebert’s attempt at connecting with the audience mostly fell flat, and he derailed the pace of their set.  Fortunately, they regained their focus, so they finished strong with their Western-inspired hit “Home”. I’m sure that left some of the sober audience members scratching their heads, but the XPN fans in attendance were singing along.


the roots picnic 2011In between the sets, DJs came out and queued up sets of favorites like a Tribe Called Quest and some Snoop Dogg. The show began to run behind schedule – but when Esperanza Spalding graced the stage, the sun came out. You may have heard of her  - she won the Best New Artist Grammy  this year – keeping it out of the hands of a certain teen idol.  

Members of The Roots supported Ms. Spalding as she alternated between playing an upright bass and an electric guitar.  In addition to her original songs, they performed a cover of Weather Report’s “Predator”. After belting out lyrics, she was a bit breathless as she talked to the audience about the past and future of jazz. WizKhalifa followed Ms. Spalding, and he had several guest artists join him on stage. The Roots finally came on around 9:00, and the crowd went wild.

I got the sense while that the other acts did draw people to the festival, people really came to see Jimmy Fallon’s house band. The hometown headliners were all over the stage dancing, with the crowd singing along.

We are fortunate to have a local band continue this festival when they have found international success.  

Contact Diane Cooney at dcooney@philly2philly.com

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Very special thanks to Rachel Spivak at Live Nation