Roots Picnic 2012: 10 Things Seen & Heard Sunday
Day two of Philadelphia's fifth annual Roots Picnic came with a couple of problems. The weather was uncooperative -- an afternoon downpour delayed the main stage sets and sent the entire crowd inside the already-cramped dance tent. To make matters worse, Kid Cudi, the set's headliner was announced as a no-show at the last minute. Such obstacles might've thwarted a lesser festival, but fortunately, Philly's legendary hip-hop collective held it down.
Spread over two days for the first time, the Roots Picnic brought out the likes of Diplo, Major Lazer, and hip-hop legend Rakim for its second day. Check out our on-site recap of Sunday's sights and sounds.
1. Though not exactly the day's headliner, Major Lazer made a convincing case for Sunday's top set. For those unfamiliar with Diplo's venture into reggae and dancehall, picture a hip-hop show with no rapper and about half a dozen hypemen and women. Fans got a taste of some new songs from the group's upcoming album, as well as cuts like "Pon De Floor" from 2009's Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do.
2. One of the festival's most visible sponsors was the online mixtape hotspot Dat Piff. The website had a table set up outside the dance tent where baseball caps bearing its logo were dispersed. Countless white Dat Piff fitted caps could be spotted throughout the crowd over the course of the day.
3. Inside the tent, West Philly rapper Chill Moody rocked a sizable crowd backed by a DJ-meets-full band lineup. The set worked with the same sort of energy as the Roots' rhythm and percussion-heavy approach, albeit on a much smaller scale. Their DJ also earned brownie points with the crowd by mixing in some local favorites like Freeway's "Flipside." Apparently unfazed from failing to make XXL's recent 2012 Freshmen cover, the Chill Moody team passed out mixtapes entitled 2012 Freshmen, Take Cover.
4. A torrential midday downpour just after Chill Moody's set forced a massive crowd of festival-goers into seeking shelter inside the relatively tiny dance tent, where Diplo was gearing up for his second set of the day. To make matters worse, the main stage's top acts were delayed further into the evening. With a sound curfew looming, the situation looked shaky.
5. Inside the dance tent, Diplo meant business for his solo set. With hordes of guests seeking refuge inside, sardine-like conditions actually lent themselves perfectly to the atmosphere, as the DJ worked the sweaty, overcrowded room. Early on he invited a handful of dancers onstage, and the number seemed to multiply until Diplo's setup simply seemed to be part of the crowd. For those looking for the weekend's most intense dance experience, this was likely it.
6. Once the bad weather subsided, the main stage went back into action with Rakim's long-awaited set. The legendary MC (with the celebrated MC/DJ duo Eric B. and Rakim) took the stage alongside the Roots, marking one the weekend's most star-studded collaborations. With Roots MC Black Thought lending a hand, Rakim tore through his seminal record, 1987's "Paid In Full," in its entirety, replacing Eric B.'s funky Golden Age production with the Roots' live band approach. Appropriately, choice cuts from the record's top side like "I Ain't No Joke" were saved for the very end of the set.
7. The end of Rakim's set brought more bad news. A dejected Black Thought remained onstage and informed the crowd that the expected headliner, Kid Cudi, would not be performing. It was hinted that the uncooperative weather had led to the no-show, though no official reason was given. Later on, The Source confirmed that Cudi was forced to cancel his performance due to a weather-related flight cancellation.
8. Even without a headliner to play alongside, the Roots flashed remarkable improvisational skills and played an invigorated set that leaned heavily towards their rock side. Guitarist/vocalist Kirk Douglas played a big role in the group's rendition of "The Seed 2.0" and a brief cover of Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child 'O Mine."
9. The Roots' set also included a crowd-pleasing guest appearance from Philly MC Freeway. The Philly Freezer popped onstage early in the set to perform a rendition of his Beanie Sigel collabo "Rock The Mic." Tweeted the DJ duo Flosstradamus (who performed the previous day): "The amount of Freeway beards in Philly never fails to impress me." Well said!
10. Throughout the Roots Picnic, Barack Obama's street team was out in full force. Questlove and the rest of the band have been vocal supporters of Obama for years, and a beefed-up presence was no surprise with the 2012 election around the corner. Guests were able text a special code to obtain a free Obama bumper sticker, and a multitude of pamphlets, handouts, and other giveaways were also available.