Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Roots Picnic Experience

UPDATE: Here is a link for the 3rd Annual Roots Picnic

A visual mirage of the day first....

First things first, I have to give a very special thanks to Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC), and for their tremendous support, access and photo services. The 'professional' pics were provided by the fine folks at sneakshot and samuelsrepublic. Thank you guys!

Now that we have all of that outta the way, allow me to tell you a little bit about my day at the Roots Picnic 09. From the sounds of those that went last year, Saturday's temperature was perfect in comparison to the heat of the previous event. It was neither too hot or too cool of a day to enjoy music outdoors. There was a main stage and then a huge tent with another stage inside of it which made going from one set to another pretty easy. The Tent, was air conditioned and was a pretty good sized one to boot. More on who performed where to come..Follow me through my journey.

I came into the experience only knowing the music of five of the acts and hearing by word of mouth of the remaining ones on the schedule for the day. So for me, it was a music learning experience. I came away appreciating some new groups' stage presence and abilities. One even converted me into being their fan on the spot. Read on and I will tell you all about it.

I did not arrive down at Penn's Landing until I would say around 3 or so. Like with any show of this size, there were delays, but I expected that. I expected them to be longer actually. They were not. Of course, the place was jumping already and full of a very mixed crowd of old, young and in between. Now for those of you have never been to an out door music festival of this fashion, it will probably be hard to fathom having the acts you just saw onstage or artists period, intermingle with the crowd. Remember this is a 'picnic' and the ambiance of event pretty much fit that. That is just what you saw too. With exception of a few artists, all day long you could see the person you just saw on stage a few sets ago, checking out other artist's sets or walking around. It was a beautiful thing. Try that at your big 'concert' and see if it happens.

Bajah and the Dry Eye Crew from Freetown, Sierra Leone were jamming out. I had heard of this group and actually had them on my 'list of groups to see'. They had great energy and seemed to have supporters through out the crowd. At this time, the crowd was not too bad. You could move around relatively easily but there were definitely many in attendance already. The place started to really get packed though after the The Pipes, Bus Driver, and a band appearing twice on the bill Antibalas. DJ Cash Money was providing a great mix of entertaining songs ranging from Dawn Penn to all types of old school hip hop.

Now, I have NEVER HEARD OF Antibalas. (Don't shoot me!) I DEFINITELY know who they are now though! They gave a good performance. They also provided a perfect backdrop as I got a chance to speak to the likes of some of Philly's finest artists like Ursula Rucker (Famous poet/the DOPE YOUNG LADY AT THE END OF THE ROOTS ALBUMS), Bahamadia, Writtenhouse and Charlie Mack among others. All parties involved were very gracious with both time and advice on all things music related. We also spoke on those topics that were not music related, as we delved deeper into other areas such as children, life, and even some politics. Bahamadia's son was also very gracious with him time as I spoke to him about various life topics including his famous mother.

So after staying outside to catch a couple of acts, I moved inside into the Press area to catch Miss Amanda Diva whipping up the crowd. Surprised again because while I expected someone to holding court in the tent, I had no idea it would Amanda Diva! She was holding the crowd over, looking lovely doing it too might I add, until Dave P, a very good Club DJ got on and did his thing. Not my type of music at the particular club music he was spinning but I could appreciate his talents. Very skilled at what he does. This was the time I took a well needed 'break' and began reading through my magazine book with Tariq and Questo on the cover that I picked up. It is a really good magazine and it took my attention for quite some much so that I...

....almost MISSED Santigold. You see, I was inside the tent reading the mag and I heard this ROAR AND JUST BASS EVERYWHERE. Even over whatever Dave P was spinning. So I rushed outside to see her on stage. I quickly made my way down to the left side and took what you will see in the gallery later on. She was AWESOME. Stage presence. Dancing. She is one of those "I was made to perform on stage not in a studio' people that I love. My nonchalantness may not mean much to you but prior 'till coming to the event, I just thought she was 'okay'. Out of everyone there, she is the one WHO MADE ME A FAN. She blew me away. I get it now. You can't really hand me a late pass but you can smack me for not punching my ticket and getting on the bus earlier. I will take that gladly. I was even inspired to Facebook about her and her dancers getting it in to Soldier Boy's "Turn My Swag On".

After SantiGold ripped down the stage, The Black Keys came on. Another group I had no prior knowledge of until the Picnic. So I did what any person interested in music would do. I positioned myself so that I could hear both The Black Keys and hear when Miss Diva took the stage again. I must say that The Black Keys were also impressive, as one would expect any band performing on a bill with the Roots as the organizers. They kept my attention throughout until Amanda got back on to warm it up for Kid Cudi.

Now this was an artist that I needed to see for myself. I am not a fan per say of Mr. Cudi but my children DEFINITELY are. I have heard the ravings. Seen him in passing on MTV. Never had a chance to really sit down and watch him. Rather, never made an attempt to. This made seeing him a top priority since he was going to be standing a few feet in front of me. Literally. First back to Miss Diva (Recurring theme no?) though. In one of the many highlights of the evening, she had her DJ take us back through some hits of the pasts to 'test' the crowd's knowledge of hip hop. The Choice Is Yours by Black Sheep, some Wu Tang, Luchini, a lil Daytona 500 and a favorite of mine Looking At the Front Door by Main Source. That last one lost the whole front section as it was full of Kid Cudi's adoring younger set of fans. Much to the delight of the older people in the crowd, as we proudly sang the lyrics line for line. With her point 'proven', Diva then proceeded to bring Cudi out.

Now you have to remember that this young man DOES NOT HAVE AN ALBUM OUT. That did not stop him from rocking a nice size crowd with a medley of hits from his mixtape BEFORE HE HIT HIS BREAD AND BUTTER SONG, including a song that I did not realize was him, 'Cudi Spazzin' which was done over the "Spaz" beat by N.E.R.D. So I guess I can say I do like a Cudi song after all outside of "Day & Night"? Anyone who can recognize talent can see that the young man is a star even if they do not like his music like that. He was really impressive and the crowd was super hype. By the time he finally did get into his main song "Day & Night", he had put on quite an impressive showing. He did a regular version of the song and then morphed into a club version that had the whole tent JUMPING.

No sooner than we had finished enjoying Kid Cudi's performance, we were informed by Miss Diva (and the schedule on our passes) that it was time for P.E.

First though, I got a chance to peak back stage for a spell. Let me tell you, once again the vibe was all LOVE. My photographer Mr. Ron got some GREAT SHOTS with just about everyone on the marquee. I will let the photos speak for themselves. We had a great time, but it was time for P.E. and I did not want to miss it. So I went back out front to the main stage.

Now THIS is who I REALLY CAME TO SEE. I knew The Roots were going to back them up but had no idea who else would pop up on stage. First things first though, ALL OF P.E WAS ON STAGE. SW1s. Flav. Chuck. Griff. All of P.E. For someone who really thought that in the summer of '91 when I last got to see them perform, they would never be on stage together again, that was GREAT TO SEE IN ITSELF. 'The boys' as I refer to The Roots, as usual ABSOLUTELY showed out, with Black Thought providing backup for both Chuck and Flav throughout hits like Fight The Power, Night of the Living Bassheads and many others. Flavor Flav did his thing. As you can see by the pictures, he was all over the crowd. Chuck sounded great as well. The aforementioned Antibalas also chipped in on the help out, giving the sound JUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED in the way of a musical backdrop for the MCs on stage. They even brought Beanie Mack A.K.A Beanie Sigel A.K.A The Broad St. Bully to the stage. Charlie Mack was holding court in the press box and Malik B. was moving in and out of the area. I believe I even saw a glimpse of The Rapper Big Pooh of Little Brother. My sources pointed him out to me.

By now it was well past 8 and while P.E. was on the main stage and Asher Roth was holding court inside the tent. I missed most of that performance though due to the P.E. show, mingling afterward with folks in the crowd and pure loss of time forgetting the fact that he was indeed performing. I did get to catch Asher doing an encore performance. Like with Kid Cudi, I can see why he has the following he has. Not necessarily my style per say but the young man can perform. On a side note, I saw Beans make a bee line to get to Asher back stage after his set after asking someone "Is the boy Asher on now?" Collabo perhaps? I would not be surprised if we saw the seeds of that being planted. I wouldn't be mad at hearing Beans at all.

This is the part where the soon to be infamous Amanda Diva picture that I have floating somewhere around cyber space was taken. Matter of fact, it is floating around up top. (There is a TREMENDOUS HINT THERE. Take it and run with it if you have no clue what I look like.)

I was just going to take a random FACE PICTURE of Miss Diva as all the pictures that I had were from my backstage vantage point, thus only getting her from the side and the back. I thought, "Well I might not want to use those so let me get something in front." She had just finished shutting it down for the night in the tent. I had spoken to her earlier about a pic and she said "Wait 'till the end'. So I did. After she let two OVERJOYED girls back to meet Mr. Roth, who almost went across the stage to get to her instead of going around it, much to the chagrin of Diva and I, she came out. I only wanted a picture of her.

"That's weird tho. You only want a picture of me? You don't wanna be in the picture?"- Amanda

(Looks into imaginary camera) Let's do it!- Me

End result is that picture with her kissing my cheek.

So I am a good seven hours into this event and 'The Boys' are about to come on. Thing is, Mr. Ron and I have another gig that we need to be at. So the day for me ends here....I get to hear the opening songs of The Roots, snap some 'footage' (read between the lines PEOPLE!) that I really HAVE NO INTENTION OF EVER SHARING on a big media platform and ride off into the Philly night with the voice of 'Riq still in my ears from that good music. Fortunately, my other great source, taking pictures that I will be using as well. Thank you for that again!! So I do have some stills of that last part but I had to go.

I had a GREAT TIME and am already looking forward to next year's event. I made a day out of it but might be looking into making a weekend out of it...that was one of the best times I have had musically yet. Top Four time for yours truly. Got to put some names with some faces. I see, titi_215 from Twitter. OKP Dan, pleasure to meet you as well as the many others that I met on that day.



Your intro was PRICELESS, lmao @titi_215. That's moi ;) It was great meeting you too! I see y'all got up close & personal w/ my husband in my head Black Thought...I saved some of the pics and if I post on my blog I will give proper credit love! Glad we got to experience Rootstock <3

All jokes aside, the 'smart phone' comment was for you. I wanted to twitter that I was there but I have a hard time operating Twitter on my phone. lol @ previous Roots post. I figured I probably would not see you so I gave up on it. lol

That is why I was shocked myself when I saw the 'blue' piece in the front of your head and the glasses. I was like "That has GOT to be her..".

He is in my Top 5. Has been for a LONG TIME. @ Thought.

You know how we do. @ pics. I have no qualms with that. I have seen how you operate.

We will have to link up on purpose next time for sure!

After seeing as many of the pictures here and on FB, I can honestly say that you have conveyed the spirit and the fun atmosphere of the event through your pictures, and also your words. Well done, my brother.

I'm especially glad you had a good time. Your Twitter comments from earlier on Saturday implied (at least to me) that you were really looking forward to this event and I for one am glad for you that the event delivered.

My man! I thank you for the comments. I TRULY do appreciate your feedback. You know that already but let me say it again!

I indeed did have a good time. I have read other places and heard the complaints but I that is neither my style nor are they things that got me that agitated. lol They put on a great event in my opinion.

Great post! It looked and sounded like a lot of fun. Ron got some cool shots. It's so like him to not be bashful about asking people to hold up his business card for the shot. Free promotion.

Oh, here's another freebie!

Ha ha!

That was a great read. Glad you enjoyed yourself! Word up!