This year marked the 10th anniversary of The Roots Picnic in Philly, and it did not disappoint. Here were the five best performances we saw (in order of appearance):
Tunji Ige, who dropped his first mixtape back in 2014 and already has strong collaborations with the likes of GTA and Christine and the Queens, opened the Picnic's South Stage--fitting, since the artist himself is a Philadelphia native. Within minutes of taking the stage it was clear his talents far surpassed his early time slot. Those lucky enough to catch the rising star were treated to a high energy, eclectic, and inspired hip-hop set.
Michael Kiwanuka shook the crowd to their core with his smooth soul music (a break on the otherwise hip hop dominated North Stage). His first act silenced the crowd with a instrumental guitar riff that had the crowd screaming for more. Kiwanuka continues to hail comparisons to Marvin Gaye and Otis Redding, among others, and with good reason. A gem, hidden in the rough, the British artist continues to shine brightly amongst his contemporaries (past and present).
Grammy-winner Thundercat might just be the most sensual musician that played the Picnic. There's a transcendental feeling when he plays, as the audience voyeuristically watches as he makes loves to his bass guitar (the lingering vibrations have almost as much stay power as he does, which speaks wonders to both him and his music). Supporting his recent release, Drunk (2017), Thundercat sure had crowds feeling tipsy.
Solange greeted Philadelphia in a sea of crimson and soaked in the adoration of her fans. Art would be an understatement for Solange, her backup dancers/singers, her music, her band, and her performance. As an ensemble it's timeless, effervescent, chilling, and awe-inspiring. Her most recent album, A Seat at the Table (2016), truly resonates more powerfully in person.
Pharrell and The Roots headlined in a whirl of anticipation. The star-studded stage was a sensory overload, with lights, backup dancers, and a full-fledged orchestra all trying to make space for an unparalleled explosion of sound (a funky hip hop pop dream, to put it boldly). The set marked the close of another legendary Picnic outing.
James Vincent McMorrow, with his charmingly sexy voice and aura, captured the audience dead in their tracks early in the day. PNB Rock, another Philadelphian on the bill, drew massive crowds as well as a slew of phone captures from audience members who were steaming and photographing the hip hop artist as he roared across the stage. Mobb Deep and Fat Joe, who made a late appearance in Black Thought & J.Period's Mixtape set. Kimbra, whose sweet smiles were as contagious as her sound. Jeezy, who took the main stage to fill the slot Lil Wayne held (before his unexpected illness) and who managed to hold his own with relative ease.