What has two stages, a concrete pit that burns like a volcano, 19 performances, hundreds of dizzy drunks convulsing from heat stroke and one big sun shining all over it? It’s Saturday’s Fourth Annual Roots Picnic at Penn’s Landing and it’s all yours for a mere 8000 pennies! Despite spending Sunday puking up Red Bull-scented stomach lining and coating your flaming limbs in aloe vera, it’s gonna be a hoot. However, even the biggest sun-loving party animals can’t handle this schizo-curated music mega-marathon, so here’s a helpful guide of which acts you should skip and which you should catch, even if it means losing your boss spot in the funnel cake line. Note: Catching the Roots is implied because it’s their fucking picnic and you should be glad they’re spending their break from that dork Jimmy Fallon with you.
Man Man: Philly’s carnival-funk and funhouse-blues heroes consistently put on some of the most sonically and visually spectacular shows we’ve ever seen. Plus, their new album, Life Fantastic , is one of the best damn albums of the year. Definitely catch it.
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros: This is the contemporary equivalent of Hootie & The Blowfish—boring acoustic, poser folk-rock your big sister’s douchebag boyfriend plays in order to seem “cool.” Don’t let them trick you like he did her. Skip it.
Wiz Khalifa: The Pittsburgh MC’s new album, Rolling Papers, is packed with ass-slappin’ bangers like hit single “Black and Yellow.” Expect a juicy kush scent wafting during this set. Catch it.
Railbird: This Brooklyn-based indie-pop six-piece makes music so ambient, spacious and dreamy you’ll feel like you’re floating. It’s perfect for laying in a dark room alone or trying on clothes at the Gap, but it’s the worst soundtrack for an all-day sweat fest. Skip it.
Esperanza Spalding: When this R&B singer won a Grammy for Best New Artist, Justin Bieber (or as The New York Times call him, “Mr. Bieber”) and Drake fans had no clue who the 26-year old Portland bassist-vocalist was. Like us, you probably still don’t know. The Roots are her backing band today. They’re also backing Nas. Catch ’em both.
Little Dragon: This Swedish electro-pop outfit is so damn bubblegum cute they’ll give you the spins. That’s the last thing you’ll want after scarfing cheese fries in a concrete desert. Skip it.
Dismemberment Plan: The Washington, D.C.-based post-punkers are a bit emo, which might make you a bit squeamish. However, this is the sorta anthemic, hard- hitting and melodic sing-a-long rock that makes an endurance rager like this doable. Catch it.
Ariel Pink & Haunted Graffiti: L.A.-based Pink went from a bedroom-recording pop-outsider to a chill-wave legend after the press went bananas over 2010’s Before Today. Haunted Graffiti make smooth retro-tunes that summon Lionel Richie and Kenny G, but recent concerts have been a total shit show. Pink’s a super drama queen; he pouts, stops singing and often walks off stage mid-set. Everybody loves a train wreck, right? Catch it, because that’s what today’s all about.
Sat., June 4, 2pm. $65-$70. The Roots, Wiz Khalifa, Yelawolf + more. Penn's Landing Festival Pier,
121 N. Columbus Blvd. 215.629.3200. livenation.com
PW's Music Issue 2014