The Roots Picnic 2014 at Festival Pier

 The 7th Annual Roots Picnic returned to (the recently remodeled) Festival Pier on Saturday, May 31st. The event featured performances by Snoop Dogg, The Roots, Janelle Monae and a slew of others.   With beautiful weather that spanned from start to finish, the day could not have been any more perfect for the Roots Picnic.

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Saturday’s show was just the second event to take place at the newly remodeled Festival Pier, which now features a beer garden, food trucks, sand placed throughout the venue to give the feel of being on the beach and a boardwalk.  While overall we are big fans of the renovations, there were some things that still plagued the venue, like long lines at food stands, and trash piling up towards the end of the day.  However, with the Picnic being completely sold-out, it is hard not to expect lines to form.

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The Roots Picnic always features a great lineup and this year was no different.  There was not a single artist at this years Roots Picnic that we did not enjoy. Some of the notable performances from the first half of the day included Emily Wells, Chill Moody, Bad Rabbits, Just Blaze (who brought out special guest, and Philly native, Freeway) and Rudimental.  

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Just like in years past, this years Roots Picnic consisted of two stages, the “Columbus”, or main stage, and a smaller stage, dubbed the “Oasis Stage”.   The set times lined up so that there was almost no down time what so ever.  As soon as an artist finished on one stage, a new artist would begin playing on the opposing stage.  This setup is something we prefer over having to pick and choose which artist you want to see when set times overlap, as the Roots Picnic brings in a very diverse lineup and part of the fun is discovering new artists.

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Biz Markie’s mid-day DJ set was a great moment of the Picnic.  Watching Biz dig through crates of records was a sight to behold, and his song selection was great.  We really did not know what to expect from a DJ set by Biz Markie, but the man delivered the goods.

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A$AP Ferg and Action Bronson both delivered pretty memorable performances towards the end of the day.  A$AP Ferg’s set was an incredibly energetic display of the A$AP Mob and they left nothing on the table.  Action Bronson, in typical Action Bronson fashion, wandered out into the crowd with microphone in hand, taking the time to lay down on a couple’s blanket, as well as climb on top of a food truck in the middle of the venue, all while not missing a single bar from his tracks.

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The last two performances of the night before the headlining act were Janelle Monae and Araabmuzik.  Janelle Monae absolutely blew the crowd away with her powerful vocals, Michael Jackson-esq dance moves, and overall incredible stage presence.  Araabmuzik impressed us with his touch-pad drums that provided a unique, one of a kind, live performance (instead of the “press play” type of DJ set that is popping up everywhere).

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After a brief intermission it was time for The Roots and Snoop Dogg to hit the stage.  The Roots first performed 6 songs on their own before bringing out special guest Snoop Dogg.  We were a bit surprised to hear so little of the Roots on their own, and were even more surprised about how little of their new album we heard, but they were great nonetheless.  

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After a brief introduction from the Roots lead singer, ‘Black Thought’, Snoop Dogg danced his way out onto the stage, rocking a vintage Philadelphia Phillies cardigan, gold sunglasses, and a matching gold microphone.  The Dogg looked good.

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Any skepticism we may have had about what a modern day performance by Snoop Dogg would be like, immediately dissipated the moment Snoop walked out onto the stage.  Of course it doesn’t help when you have The Legendary Roots Crew backing you, but Snoop put on a great performance, playing tracks such as ‘Gin & Juice’, ‘The Next Episode’, and ‘Drop it like its Hot’.  

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Snoop also provided some comical commentary in between songs.  When someone in the crowd threw a bag of Marijuana onto the stage, Snoop stopped mid-sentence, ran over to the other side of the crowd, and picked up the bag.  After a quick inspection, Snoop said into the mic, “Who Threw This?!”.  After a fan in the crowd jumped up and down indicating he was the gift giver, Snoop told the crowd, “You know Philly, y’all use to be known for that dirt weed… I’m gonna have my DJ inspect this, and if he approves, I’m gonna bring you backstage after the show to smoke some California Chronic.  I’ll even let you take a picture”.  It was the ad-lib, and candid moments during the performance, that really stood out to us.  The fact that Snoop has either released, or been featured on countless hit songs, meant that he and the Roots and a huge discography to choose from.

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Overall, we had a great time at this years Roots Picnic.  We are glad to see such great things happen for the Philadelphia natives The Roots, and we can’t wait to see not only what is in store for the Roots Picnic next year, but how much the Roots will grow in that time.

[Photos and Article by Steve Garfinkel Photography]

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