Fine day for a Roots Picnic in Philly

"It's a crazy mix," said Pete Walski, of Fishtown. "You've got the Philly scene, the preppy suburban kids, people from all over, but the music's chill. . . . Everyone's vibing, gelling, having a good time."
"It's a crazy mix," said Pete Walski, of Fishtown. "You've got the Philly scene, the preppy suburban kids, people from all over, but the music's chill. . . . Everyone's vibing, gelling, having a good time."
Posted: June 02, 2014

Philadelphia dropped a beach - and the beat - on Festival Pier on Saturday for the seventh annual Roots Picnic.

The pier, blanketed in sand, with a boardwalk running between two riverfront stages and the smell of marijuana and suntan lotion in the air, drew more than 6,000 for the sold-out show. The concert, along with a Friday show, kicked off the summer music season at the river.

While many enjoyed the beach feel (complete with Calypso band and man-made sand dunes along the Delaware), others found the sand irritating. "It's getting all up in my sneakers," said Dante Lundy, 30, of Vineland. "I don't really get it."

Lundy came out mostly for Janelle Monae and Electric Wire Hustle, who kicked off the noon-10 p.m. lineup.

Lundy attended last year and was impressed with the prompt timing. There was no downtime between acts on the two stages, one in the center, the second flanked by the river and sky.

"It's a great day, and it's good to see Philadelphia get some recognition for its music," Lundy said. "We're much more than a stop between D.C. and New York, and people are seeing that today."

In fact, many of the sun-weary but happy fans hailed from out of state. Alicia Richardson, 29, of Orlando, Fla., came up with two girlfriends for the weekend. "Questlove is just - I think he's a mastermind," Richardson said of the Roots member. "And performing with Snoop, what else can you ask for?"

Paige Miller, 21, traveled north from South Carolina with two hula hoops, one that lights up. She wore a silver bikini and knee-high black and pink furry boots.

"I'm something of a professional hula hooper. I bring my hula hoop everywhere," she said, hula-jamming to the band Rudimental on the stage behind her.

The fashion at the picnic is as eclectic as the music - lots of prints, denim, Bob Marley T's, Philadelphia sports jerseys, and Ray-Bans.

"It's a crazy mix. You've got the Philly scene, the preppy suburban kids, people from all over, but the music's chill," said Pete Walski, 26, of Fishtown. While past concerts had had tense moments, Walski said, "it's mellowed this year, and everyone's vibing, gelling, having a good time."

Walks runs a local clothing line, Meme War. He was surprised to see some shirts he made for Philadelphia rapper Freeway tossed out to the crowd. Freeway wasn't listed on the lineup, but came out as a surprise during another act and tossed out the shirts.

About an hour before the Philadelphia band War on Drugs went on, Mark and Paula Granofsky - parents of lead singer Adam Granduciel - negotiated their way through a bottleneck of people. The couple drove down from Boston to see their son, who grew up there, but moved to Philly when he was 18. Mark Granofsky, 82, wore a "War on Drugs" baseball hat.

By the way, their son adopted his slightly tweaked name from an art teacher's French translation of "grand of sky."

"We're hoping he gets us backstage," he said, glancing at a group of scantily dressed men and women dancing nearby.

When War on Drugs played on Jimmy Fallon's television show, Granofsky was there and said Questlove spent a while talking with the guys. "He's always had an appreciation for Adam, and it's great to see them here today," he said.

There were minor hiccups - long lines at the gourmet food trucks and some crowd-flow problems - but most people described the day, 73 and sunny, as perfect.

It was an especially special outing for Maria and Chris Jordan of North Wales. The couple arrived at 9 a.m. To get a prime spot on a blanket right in front of the stage. Chris Jordan, who wore a "Fighting Prostate Cancer" T-shirt, starts treatment in a few weeks.

"We got tickets the first day they came out. It's a nice thing to do before he starts," Maria Jordan said, leaning into her husband. "We're relishing the day."


jterruso@phillynews.com

856-770-3876 @juliaterruso

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