Recap: Day 1 of The Roots Picnic (feat. De La Soul, Wale, St. Vincent, tUnE-yArDs, & more)

The 5th Annual Roots Picnic kicked off yesterday at Festival Pier with a full day and night of rap, hip-hop, electronic, and indie music. This year’s festival is the first to take place over more than 1 day, with today being the 2nd and last (today’s picnic starts at 5 PM). Yesterday’s schedule ran a lot smoother than last year, when the organizers had trouble getting acts on stage at their scheduled times. The music was continuous between the main stage and the tented stage, the latter featuring mainly DJs and EDM acts.

Shortly before 4 PM, things started heating up as OCD: Moosh & Twist, JUMP magazine‘s new cover boys, hit the stage and showed why the buzz around them has been growing and growing. The 19-year-old duo displayed poise and chemistry throughout their 30 minutes on stage. Despite their youth, they come off as both mature lyricists and performers, as well as rappers that have kept their lyrics grounded in reality.

The youngsters were followed with two forgettable, half-hour sets inside the tent before tUnE-yArDs finally hit the main stage and had pretty much every “bro” highly confused. Band leader Merrill Garbus was decked out in her usual garb (pictured right), but it was most likely the experimental afro-beat style of her music that floored the crowd (both in good and bad ways). She and St. Vincent were interesting choices and the main names to stir the genre pot for the festival.

St. Vincent was next up on the main stage and put on an outstanding set, but one that went mostly unappreciated by the hip-hop-loving crowd. And, as frontwoman Annie Clark herself said, “It wouldn’t be a festival without technical difficulties.” Last year, it was Edward Sharpe who nearly flipped out when technical difficulties interrupted his set. This time, Clark fell victim and nearly flat-lined on stage as she tried to entertain the crowd. The silence wasn’t a comfortable one, and it was rough seeing such a talented performer so far out of her comfort zone. Once the problem was fixed though, Clark blazed through some of her best material, including “Surgeon” and “Cruel,” and was a true highlight of the day.

James Murphy took care of the break between St. Vincent and The Roots by spinning jams inside the tent. The front-man of the now defunct LCD Soundsystem still provides a buzz wherever he goes, but seeing him unenthusiastically spinning is not quite as thrilling as his LCD days. Before long though, it was time for the main event. The festival’s namesake came out around 8:30 and experienced some early technical difficulties (mainly—no one could hear Black Thought). Those were soon forgotten however, as they, Wale and De La Soul kept the crowd thoroughly entertained.

After a few Roots songs, the legendary crew gave way to Wale, who worked quickly through a dozen songs. The Roots then came back for a few more of their songs before the hip-hop trio De La Soul was brought on stage. The whole set felt like one big party with old friends who were just as happy to see you as you were to see them. And, as any good party requires, there was a surprise guest in store: Yasiin Bey, better known as Mos Def. The party continues tonight with performances by Kid Cudi, Diplo, Rakim, Chill Moody, Major Lazer, & more.

Below, check out some pictures from throughout the day. The first slideshow includes St. Vincent, tUnE-yArDs, Moosh & Twist, Danny Brown, Mr. Mothafuckin’ eXquire and can also be seen here. The second slideshow is all from the main set with The Roots, Wale and De La Soul. It can also be seen here.

Some setlists from the day can be seen here.

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