This year, I returned to Philly for the 8th Annual Roots Picnic festival. Unlike last year, when I spent the entire day backstage, hanging out and eating some famous jerk chicken, while drinking a lot of vodka, this year, I photographed the show.
I left DC around 9:30am, the morning of the festival, headed up the interstate. I arrived in time to be late for the first act, that I really wanted to see - Marc E. Bassy. I was a little pissed, but I at least had a chance to shoot a few portraits of him backstage, following his set.
Shortly after, I captured a few shows of young hip-hop artists Bishop Nehru, and headed over to see Rae Sremmurd at the main stage. I am a fan of these guys, so I was anxious to see them in concert for the first time. It was everything I expected it to be. Crazy energy! I found myself in another one of those “Do I shoot photos or do I rap/dance along”? They definitely got the crowd hype. I feel like they were on a bit early though.
After shooting Hiatus Kaiyote, back on the smaller stage, I turned my camera on reggae artist Chronixx, on the main stage. His performance is my second favorite of the entire day. I will be checking for him to come to DC.
Back over at the smaller stage, another young artist, Raury, put on an impressive show. His set, was hands down, my favorite of the day. His stage presence reminded me of a mash-up of Miguel, James Brown, Andre 3000, with a little Michael Jackson. Before the Roots Picnic lineup was announced, I hadn’t bothered listening to his music. Now that he made me a fan, I guess I need to. I look forward to shooting him this summer at other festivals.
I didn’t know much about Phantogram, but I still captured a few photos, before heading over to where Dj Mustard was set to spin. I can appreciate a Mustard set, after he came to DC for the Brisk Bodega event.
The lineup was arranged so that once DJ Mustard finished, that would shut down the smaller stage, and the remainder of the performances would happen on the main stage. I thought it would be a great idea to cut out from Mustard’s set, early, to fight my way though what felt like 1,000’s of concert-goers, to make my way to the main stage photo pit. It was a nightmare getting through there.
If my feedback means anything, next year, a backstage/perimeter walkway would be extremely helpful.
When I finally made my way through the sea of people, it was just about time for A$ap Rocky to perform. He had a few members of the A$ap Mob with him, of course. I thought it was dope that he performed songs from the brand new album, for the first time.
The Weeknd’s set changeover took forever, because he had a bunch of fancy lights and band risers. When he finally hit the stage, the girls went bonkers. Singing every single lyric, as if they wrote them. His fans love him!
It was obvious that the people that arrived early to the festival to be close to the stage, were mostly The Weeknd fans. Once he finished performing, a huge crowd exited.
At some point during his set, I went backstage to grab a drink, and some food. Clutch! Jerk wings, mac & cheese, and baked beans. That helped me get through the rest of the night. Right along with that BC Aspirin packet I found in my camera bag.
The lineup that spread throughout the day was pretty darn awesome! I admit, I wasn't able to make it into the tent where there were some EDM sets. There was just so much going on, it was hard to choose...
It was the end of the night, and the only person that hadn’t hit the stage was Badu. While I was still backstage, her van pulled up, and people swarmed it, wanting autographs, and selfies.
The Roots hit the stage performing a few songs, and out came Erykah Badu on an air board - a self balancing electric skateboard kinda gadget. From the audience, it probably looked like she was floating. Only Badu can float across a stage like that. The Roots and Badu played a number of classic joints, and brought out a few surprise guests - The Lox, YG, and Freeway. Media wasn’t allowed to shoot at that point, so I don’t have any images.
During what I believe was the last song of the night "You Got Me", Erykah Badu yelled out, "Jill Scotttttt!!!", because Jill co-wrote the song. The crowd went wild, as if Jill was about the walk out on that stage. I was watching, and thinking, "Ha! Got eeem!". Lol.
Fast forward to the end of the show.
While backstage, I was hoping to bump into one of Erykah’s people, because I had some photos to share. He escorted me to the dressing room, where I shared the photos with him, and Erykah as well.
The conversation went like this:
Badu: You killed these boy!
Me: Thank you.
Badu: Thank you so much for documenting our history. It's so important.
Me: I try to explain that importance to other musicians.
Badu: Let's take a picture. Let’s do a selfie; I like selfies, because I can see what I look like. Y’all won’t have me out here looking crazy. Lol.
That’s basically it.