It’s rare to feel right at home during music festival season when thousands of strangers surround you. But for the first time since 2019, Roots Picnic gathered upward of 60,000 music-lovers in person to enjoy what felt like a classic family reunion.
Philadelphia has always been like a second home to me, so walking into Fairmount Park over the weekend felt like homecoming season, running into familiar faces and meeting plenty of new ones. The energy on the festival grounds was noticeably warm — and not just because of the 80-plus-degree heat. As a first-time attendee, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Roots Picnic, but an elder, who reminded me of one of my uncles, offered a simple summary as we walked through the gate. “Just listen to some music and chill,” I overheard him tell a couple in front of us — and that’s exactly what I did.
“. . . it’s just a lot of perks being here.”
For the long two-day event, I switched back and forth between the TD Pavilion and Toyota Soundstage (as much as my endurance allowed in the intense sun) and chilled as I soaked in the musical experience. It’s not every day you get to see a lineup as stacked as the Roots Picnic’s — which included folks like Jazmine Sullivan, Mary J. Blige, Summer Walker, WizKid, and The Roots, to name a few. As excited as I was to see those headliners grace the stage, the other Roots Picnic performers were just as eager to put on a great show for their fans, too.
“When I tell you I went all out, as far out as I could, because this is a really good look,” singer Durand Bernarr told POPSUGAR ahead of his Sunday set. “It’s a great opportunity. To share the stage with all these other talented people, and some of them are my homies, it’s just a lot of perks being here.”
Despite a few hiccups this weekend (e.g., very delayed sets, sound issues, extremely long lines, and last-minute schedule changes), everyone should experience Roots Picnic at least once in their lifetime. I have never been to a music event that felt so welcoming, so culturally sound, and, frankly, so Black; people old and young laughed and danced together at the Mann Center for the first time since the pandemic pause. It felt good to celebrate the culture live and in person with my community — the City of Brotherly Love definitely showed out.
The technical difficulties, though inconvenient at the moment, felt small compared to what I walked away with. I left Roots Picnic with a full spirit nourished by the vibes the performers poured into the active crowd. The festival made music the heart and soul of the weekend-long event this year, as it should’ve been. I hope that never changes because the end results are truly unmatched.
Keep reading for standout moments from Roots Picnic 2022.