With the Lollapaloozas, Electric Daisy Carnivals and the like having become overrun with musical tourists, alternative festivals have taken on an even greater exigency. And now in its eighth year, the Roots Picnic is perhaps one of the most ideologically driven music gatherings on the annual calendar. Far from being some corporately composed cheese-fest, it is instead meant to be a celebration of the distinctly eclectic ethos The Roots have always cultivated around them. Perhaps even more so, it is a celebratory tribute to the unwaveringly vibrant music scene in their hometown of Philadelphia—where the Picnic will once again take place this May 30.
2015 brings together such divergent acts as The Weeknd, Phantogram, A$AP Rocky, DJ Windows 98 (actually Win Butler of Arcade Fire), Hudson Mohawke, Afrika Bambaataa, and Erykah Badu (who will be backed by The Roots)…and, naturally, The Roots.
Following the announcement of the 2015 lineup, we caught up for a chat with The Roots’ Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter about the whys and whats of next month’s big Picnic.
What makes it particularly special about doing the Roots Picnic in Philly?
This is our foundation, all of our early artistic influences started in this city. We wanted to make sure we gave back to the city that gave us so much.
Philly music fans in general seem to be as fanatical as they come. What do the hometown fans mean to The Roots?
Philly fans are known for being hyper-critical. It’s widely known that if you can rock a Philly crowd, you have done something special. It’s always great to play at home.
What is the “mission” of the event? Is there a musical philosophy that drives the creation of the lineup?
The philosophy was really to build a multi-genre bill of acts that The Roots as a collective enjoy and are fans of. There is a brain trust that determines the talent list; and we feel we do a pretty good job of curating a list of great acts that normally wouldn’t be playing at the same event.
What first time acts are you especially looking forward to this year?
All of them….really. When we build this list, most of the acts I already know. But some of the names that my manager might come up with I am just discovering; and that is what really excites me about the Picnic. Each year, I personally see or hear an act perform that I was never aware of in the past.