.

Vampire Weekend, John Legend Heat Up Roots Picnic

Day-long Philly fest features full 'Wu Massacre' set, the Clipse and Mayer Hawthorne

June 7, 2010 11:16 AM ET

The Roots' annual Picnic festival is always a reliable smorgasbord of international talents. Saturday's third annual event at the Festival Pier in Philadelphia brought a heavy set from the Clipse, Senegal's horn-stocked Baja and the Dry Eye Crew, ukulele-strumming one-gal-band TuneYards and Detroit's Mayer Hawthorne, who looks like Buddy Holly and sings like Smokey Robinson.

Things got serious when the sun went down and masterful live act (and Jimmy Fallon house band) the Roots took the stage. Anchored by the mighty ?uestlove, who rocked a T-shirt emblazoned with Prince's mug shot (the Artist Formerly Known As was arrested in 1980 for pranks on a plane), the Roots came out swinging with "Here I Come" and hellfire cameos by Philly homeboy Dice Raw and ex-bassist Leonard Hubbard. John Legend, who as Rolling Stone reported is currently finishing up a collaboration with the Roots called Wake Up, joined the crew for richly rendered socially conscious soul in the mold of Marvin Gaye's What's Going On.

Legend and the Roots kicked off their set with a righteous, roof-ripping cover of Eugene McDaniels' "Compared To What" and followed it up with an equally powerful rendition of Bill Withers' anti-war epistle "I Can't Write Left-Handed." When Legend exited, the Wu entered. Meth, Raekwon and Ghostface rowdily ran down the recently released Wu Massacre start to finish with the Roots backing, closing out with the classic "C.R.E.A.M." from the seminal 36 Chambers. And of course, it wouldn't be a Roots Picnic without the obligatory Beanie Sigel cameo, and the Philly MC made his presence known on Saturday with a brief walk-on.

Vampire Weekend closed out the festivities with a short, snappy, super-tight set that mixed choice nuggets from their self-titled debut (the hyper-pop of "A-Punk," the cool jerk of "Oxford Comma") with standout tracks from their latest disc Contra (the bobble-head-inducing "Holiday" and the rocket-fueled neo-ska of "Cousins"). Frontman Ezra Koenig yelped with popped-collar abandon and played his guitar like it was a cross-bow and he was shooting Cupid's arrow right into the heart of the crowd. "It's so great to be playing the Roots Picnic, they are the first band I ever paid money to see," he said, before sending the spent, sun-dazed crowd off into the good night with a heart-tugging run through "Walcott."

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Stillness Is the Move”

Dirty Projectors | 2009

A Wim Wenders film and a rapper inspired the Dirty Projectors duo David Longstreth and Amber Coffmanto write "sort of a love song." "We rented the movie Wings of Desire from Dave's brother's recommendation, and he had me go through it and just write down some things that I found interesting, and they made it into the song," Coffman said. As for the hip-hop connection, Longstreth explained, "The beat is based on T-Pain. We commissioned a radio mix of the song by the guy who mixes all of Timbaland's records, but the mix we made sounded way better, so we didn't use it."

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com