The sun was still shining bright in Philly a little after 5pm. The crowd had swelled to capacity and everyone was ready to see the indie artist that now boast two multi-platinum records. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis were up next and everyone wanted to see them. You don’t have the success they have had and have sellout shows around the world with a bad stage show.
Macklemore came out hype to a fast paced song and the crowd loved it. Ryan Lewis was Djing and they had a trumpet player on stage. Macklemore went up and down the stage rapping as Ryan Lewis hyped up the crowd and even held a mic stand out over the crowd creating a boom mic as they yelled and rapped along. After two songs he addressed the crowd and started complementing cool outfits and asked who had the best gear. Then he sees someone holding a faux fur vest and asks them to pass it up. He proceeds to put it on, make fun of the smell and performs Thrift Shop. The song was ringing off and he brought out Tee Wanz to do the hook. He did some other song then said if he’s going to perform this next song the crowd has to get hype and put their hands up. Everyone obliged and he did Can’t Hold Us. He brought out Ray Dalton to sing the hook and that’s when the best part of the set happened. Macklemore began to walk on the hands of the crowd while performing. I had heard about it and seen pictures but to see it live was crazy. He did two or three songs after but I had stopped paying attention. He made the mistake of doing the two most popular songs early in the set. Also, there are very few things you can do to follow walking on the crowd; he should have saved that for last. During the performance he talked about how the world was progressing and civil rights and gay marriage. He did a good job and I liked the set but definitely should have changed the song order. First photo is courtesy of LaVan Anderson of Everyday LaVan Photography.
At this point I should have gone into the tent to watch Dj Premier do work but it actually felt better outside than the tent. As I result I had to hear about how great the set was and how a lot of the acts that had already went actually went to the tent to see Dj Premier’s all vinyl set.
The next act on the main stage was Gary Clark Jr. I had never heard of him but he is on almost every big summer festival’s line up this year so I felt like I had to hear his set. First off, this is actually a band and the lead guitarist and only vocalist is Gary Clark Jr. Now the music is technically blues but it has elements of country and rock music. He did a good mix of up-tempo and slow songs while doing interesting things throughout the set like making Dj scratching sounds somehow on the guitar and making it sound like he was mixing. Everyone loved his set, it reminded of the movie Black Snake Moan when Samuel L. Jackson performed at the bar. Gary Clark Jr’s voice is very unique, some songs singing and others a soulful shouting. It was the best set of the day for me and I actually purchased his album Blak And Blu afterwards. the live show sounded just like the cd. The fact that the sun went down during his set helped as well and seemed like perfect time. First photo is courtesy of LaVan Anderson of Everyday LaVan Photography.
After having to hear about how good Dj Premier’s set was I decided I wouldn’t miss A-Trak’s set so I headed back into the tent. A-Trak was already spinning when I walked in and the crowd was partying. If you are not into electronic dance music (EDM) yet then loosen up and get with it, The sped up rap beats and house music had everyone jamming. A-Trak had some good mixes and drops that he transitioned to easily from song to song. Then he let up and coming Philly rapper GrandeMarshall come out and do a song I think was called PMS. I was a good look for Marshall and cool move by A-Track. I enjoyed this set because it was different from what I had been hearing all day and it was fun.
Since the tent was so packed it was easy for me to get a good spot outside for the headliner, Naughty By Nature and The Roots. “The Legendary Roots Crew” came out with the classic Table of Contents followed by Next Movement and Book of Right On. Then they did one of the best songs ever, Clones. All these songs are older so only longtime fans were rapping along but most people were just watching and bobbing their heads. Everyone when got into when they dropped Get Busy. This song rang out and they brought Dice Raw out but for some reason not Peedi Crack even though he was there. Next they did Dynamite and followed that up by taking it back to Proceed. For this song they brought out an old bass player who retired from the band. He did the song and then a long solo that I think even surprised the band. It was good but went on too long, he was enjoying the spotlight. The Roots came back with What They Do and followed it up with Mellow My Man. The set was kind of slow but featured a cool back and forth battle with ?uestlove and the congo/timbale player. Watching The Roots is like watching art, the band is so in sync and each member is crucial to every song whether they are playing an instrument, hyping the crowd or singing. It was a chill but good set if you knew the songs; if not you probably would not have enjoyed it that much. First two photos are courtesy of LaVan Anderson of Everyday LaVan Photography.
Black Thought brought out Naughty By Nature and the band went right into Its On and followed it with Uptown Anthem. There was some controversy recently as Treach had proclaimed he wouldn’t do anymore shows with Vin Rock. I have never seen them perform live before but they dynamic on stage made it look like Vin Rock was the hypeman and Treach was the main artist. They talked to the crowd some then did Craziest and Jamboree. A lot of people didn’t know the songs but they had catchy hooks and you could bounce to them. Next they did Fell Me Flow and Ghetto Bastard. Finally they got to what everyone was waiting on and asked “You Down With OPP?” After OPP the crowd was hype and they went right into Hip Hop Hooray. The Roots played the entire set and even Black Thought helped rapped some of the lyrics playing hype man. A lot of the celebs and other artist who were backstage came up on stage for Hip Hop Hooray and it was a good scene. I enjoyed the set even though I really only knew the last two songs. First photo is courtesy of LaVan Anderson of Everyday LaVan Photography.
Some people began to leave the venue but the show was far from over. The Roots took back over and brought out legendary beat boxer, Rahzel. Then ?uestlove and Rahzel had a cool back and forth battle where if you couldn’t see Rahzel you would have had no clue that he didn’t have any actual instruments. This was followed by the classic, You Got Me. The guitar player, Captain Kirk, did the hook to perfection. Black Thought asked the crowd if they wanted some more music and if they did to make some noise so the crowd cheered and the stage got dark.
The Roots began to play Maybach Curtains and the spotlight hits the stage and Black Thought introduces Meek Mill. Meek comes out to Maybach Curtains then he performed Dreams and Nightmares. When that beat drops and Meek yells “HOLD UP WAIT A MINUTE, Y’ALL THOUGHT I WAS FINISHED?” the crowd loses it. It was so cool because it was a total surprise, he was not on any of the promotions and most people phones were moving slowed and/or had died so social networks couldn’t tell us. From the Meek went right into Ima Boss then did his new song, Levels. He ended the set with Amen and the crowd cheering like crazy. It was a quick bolt of energy and welcomed surprised for people who had stood outside for hours. The set was really hype and everyone seemed to enjoy it. First photo is courtesy of LaVan Anderson of Everyday LaVan Photography.
The Roots then played The Seed and thanked everyone for coming out. The day was long but a lot of fun. The heat made the day rough but the good music smoothed it out. I enjoyed all the acts I saw and wish I would have saw more. I will listen to artist more before going to see them live which I am sure will enhance my experience and make it even better next time. I enjoyed The Roots Picnic and will most likely be back next year.
Were you Roots Picnic? What did you think? Let me know in the comments section.