Review: The Roots Picnic 6/6/09

The Roots
[All Photos: Copyright Dom Corleone, Hold the Throne, 2009]

Legendary. Very few artists deserve that description, but the Roots crew lived up to the title this past Saturday.

Led by iconic drummer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and talented MC Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, the organic hip-hop jazz pioneers played generous host for the 2nd Annual Roots Picnic at Festival Pier, Penn’s Landing Philly. Thanks to the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation and Philly 360 I got a chance to venture to the City of Brotherly Love for the day-long celebration.

[Check out the rest of my review and photos after the jump.]

Festival Pier


Main Stage

Questlove, Black Thought

The fellas kicked off the festivities with a brief opening set on the main outdoor stage followed by a plethora of cool opening acts including Sierra Leone reggae massive Bajah & The Dry Eye Crew, afrobeat masters Antibalas, and LA hip-hopper Busdriver.


Philly songstress Santi Santigold” White then stimulated the sun-soaked crowd, belting her signature vocals for hits like “Creator” and the hook to her collab with rapper Jay-Z “Brooklyn (Go Hard).” Fellow freelancer Toccara (who writes for UptownLife.net) and I ran into a female attendee who didn’t know Santi grew up in the area.. Talk about a fail.

Kid Cudi

While Akron, Ohio rockers The Black Keys took the main stage, I made my way to the indoor tent to catch Cleveland rep Kid Cudi. Between sips of an ice cold brew, the alt-rapper rocked fan favorites including “Dat New New, “Poke Her Face” and his breakthrough record “Day N Nite.” After his short set, Cudi said “peace” and seemed to disappear into thin air.

Chuck D

Right after, I rushed out to see the historic performance of political rap pioneers Public Enemy backed by The Roots and Antibalas. Hearing It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back alongside instrumentation by the two bands was a music head’s heaven-on-Earth. Don’t know what was better – witnessing Chuck D, Flavor Flav, & Black Thought sharing a stage or the diverse crowd reciting the words to “Bring The Noise.”

Asher Roth

After munching some arroz con pollo, I peeped the next great white hype that is Asher Roth for the first time. What a juxtaposition it was coming from the previous set as the average age was about 18 1/2 and average color was extremely light skinded. Asher amped the hometown crowd, as he opened with a great rendition of “Lark On My Go-Kart,” paid homage to his favorite herbal medicine before rocking out to tracks like “Be By Myself” and, of course, “I Love College.” Not bad at all.


By this point, the sun had set and my energy was dwindling. I halfway listened to the vibes of TV on the Radio’s set as I chatted with Ben from Always Hustle, mainly to pass the time until The Roots’ final set. From what I heard, TVOTR was excellent.

The moment had arrived. Mikewaxx, HallwayJ, their homie and I situated ourselves as The Roots took the stage. Opening steadily with “You Got Me” with vocal assistance from Amanda Diva, they segued into masterful covers of Guns N Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone,” transcending all musical boundaries as guitarist Captain Kirk Douglas ripped through solos that would even make Eric Clapton smile.

Then came classic live jams from the band’s catalog with “The Next Movement” and “Seed 2.0” before Black Thought wowed everyone in attendance with his lyrical acrobatics on his version of Kool G Rap’s “Men @ Work,” putting the finishing touches on a dynamic, high-energy performance. I was rendered speechless. Questo, Thought and the guys thanked the crowd before it dispersed, exhausted after the day-long musical journey.

In between sets, I had a helluva time networking in the media area courtesy of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation and Philly 360, which debuted the new book “Philly 360” celebrating the city’s bustling culture.

Throughout the day, I chopped it up with some good folks including Dallas Penn, Ben, the Yellow Rebel, Tracey from AOL Music, Toccara (check her work out at UptownLife.Net), the “consultant crew” Jasmin & Lindsay and many, many more. Not to mention I consumed all the free beer and food a blogger could ask for – what a gig.

Special thanks to Cara and Jeff from GPTMC for being great hosts, I’m already looking forward to next year!


Black Thought

Black Thought, Questlove

Black Thought Close

Black Thought Close


Inside The Tent

Jasmin, Black Thought, Lindsay



Main Stage

Public Enemy, The Roots


Questlove, Black Thought

Questlove, Tuba Gooding Jr

The Roots Poster


2 Responses to “Review: The Roots Picnic 6/6/09”

  1. June 9, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Man, I wish I could have gone to this. I saw Tweets from you and other people and it sounded like it was a great time.

    Nice pics too, you really got all up in there lol.

Leave a Reply to domcorleone Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Corleone, Hold the Throne



HipHopBlips Member Blog


Sample Sets

Support The Artists

June 2009

Banner Design By

%d bloggers like this: