Words & Images by: Jake Krolick
3rd Annual Roots Picnic :: 06.05.10 :: Penn's Landing :: Philadelphia,
'Tis the season in the 215, that time of year to clean your hi-tops with that old
toothbrush and hang out in a parking lot all day in 90-degree weather. Sound like
torture, maybe, but to those who have braved the heat for the last two Roots
Picnics know how amazing these events can be. Too bad this year's gathering was
nowhere near the throw down that the last two were, but there was still fun to be found if
you knew where to listen. Plus, Philly was ripe for a party, high on a Stanley Cup play-
off and ready for the best event to bridge the culture, race and music gap the city had
The day's highlights came from several sources, but let's start with the two bands from
Africa. Bajah and the Dry Eye Crew opened by saying how we were all going to
Africa with them before they put on a warm-up set filled with bass heavy rhythms and an
exhibition in how to dance in the heat of the midday. The other African connection, The Very Best,
shattered my expectations and made the crowd move like there was no tomorrow. Their set
was filled with their songs, "Julia", "Warm Heart of Africa" and "Mulomo," which features
the music from Yeasayer's "Ambling Alp" all wrapped up in a yummy dose of afro-
Electronica's set was thoughtful and featured some well delivered songs about the
hurricane debacle in New Orleans and a great rap about living on Cecil B. Moore in North
were a bit of a disappointment, not musically, more in that they barely played as The
Roots. In previous years we got spoiled with two to three full Roots sets throughout the
day. The highlight of their brief jaunt came in guest spots by Philly's Dice Raw
and ex-bassist Leonard Hubbard. To make up for the lack of solo Roots, they served
us a generous helping of The Roots playing back-up band to John Legend and
The Roots with the Wu-
Killah and Raekwon.
The John Legend set was expectedly soulful and featured a funky rendition of Bill
Withers' "I Can't Write Left-Handed" and a cover of Eugene McDaniels' "Compared To What."
The Wu set featured a fair amount of smack talk about the Philly sports teams, but the
performance made up for the babble as the rowdy grouping heaved us a classic "C.R.E.A.M."
from their album 36 Chambers.
Much of the crowd ran for the gate before Vampire Weekend
dropped a short set of songs that really would have been better suited in an afternoon
time slot than at the end of a long day. Regardless Vampire Weekend closed out the
festivities with true-to-the-album versions of "Oxford Comma" and "A-Punk." Frontman
Ezra Koenig said that The Roots were the first band that he ever paid money to see
before closing it all down with "Walcott."
JamBase | Philadelphia
Go See Live Music!