Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Roots w/ Erykah Badu @ Festival Pier, Philadelphia, PA 05/30/15

This is almost one of those shows that didn't happen.  The only thing better than is actually happening was getting to experience it through the eyes of my 15 year old son.

My schedule has been so crazy that I haven't had time to go to a show, let alone the money.  Every time that happens one of the best friends in the world comes through with tickets for me.  This time it was guest passes for me and my boys for 8th Annual Roots Picnic at Festival Pier in Philadelphia, PA.  This is would give us the opportunity to hang with her and meet her new husband.  But even that presented its challenges.

The day that my friend confirmed that she had gotten us passes I found out the my youngest had a lacrosse tournament the same day.  The tournaments are usually an early start so I was hoping his team would pull early games giving us plenty of time to see the incredible lineup.

The day before the show the tournament schedule was released.  My son's team would be playing in Southern New Jersey at 5:00, 6:00, and 7:00 pm the day of the concert.  We knew The Roots were going on at 9:15.  We came to the conclusion that this probably was not happening.

On the way to the tournament my youngest decided he did not want to go to the concert.  He wanted to finish his games and go home with his mom.  That meant that if me and my oldest were to leave after the first to games there was a possibility that we could do this!!!

After two games it was 7:00 and we left.  We were about 30 minutes away.  My only concern was that I had never been to this venue and I had no idea what parking would be like.  Like anything else when you are in a hurry, parking was atrocious.  The parking lots were full and the area was a mad house.  We ended up parking over a mile away at a meter.  I had no change so I sent my son into stores with Fives to buy gum and ask for quarters as change.  We did the best we could and hustled down to Festival Pier.

Festival Pier is a water front concert venue along the Delaware River in Center City, Philadelphia run by R5 Productions.  It's an outdoor venue meant for festivals.  The problem is I forgot I am way to old for festivals.

We got our passes and made our way in.  We made it for the very end of the Weeknd's set.  We had guest passes and were trying to locate the guest area. We spotted a tent close to the stage on the far end of the venue and started to make our way over. It was packed and I forgot that although we had just gotten there these people had been here all day. They had been drinking, toking, and feeling the music.  I could tell in the face of my son that he was overwhelmed.  When we got to the tent, to our dismay, we were told that it was a VIP tent.  The guest tent was back over by the entrance.  I could see the color leave my son's face knowing we had to make our way back through the crowd.

We started back over and The Weeknd's set ended just as we go to the entrance.  We flashed our badges only to find they had closed off the guest section at 8:00.  I looked at my son.  He asked me if we could leave.  I said that after all of the trouble that we had gone through to get here we owe it to ourselves to listen to at least one song.  This way we could say we saw The Roots.  He agreed under the stipulation that we stand in the back and not in the crowd.  Of course we could do that.  I wanted him to feel comfortable and have a good time.

The sun was going down and a cool breeze was coming off of the water.  It was time for The Roots!  Black Thought's voiced bellowed through the crowd.  "What's your passion?"  He then took the stage.

He introduced the Mayor of Philadelphia before the band started to Jam.  At this point Darien said that maybe we should stay for three songs.

The band was tight and having fun the crowd was loving it.  Before we knew it they introduced Miss Badu.  Darien had lost track of how many songs had played.

She started off very strong with 'Window Seat', 'On & On' and 'Tyrone'.  I gained a new respect for her as her voice was flawless.  The crowd was going wild.  What completely grabbed Darien's attention though was a 20 minute version of 'Love of my Life' that ended up being an homage to hip-hop.  They did a tribute to Grand Master Flash, Kanye, and P Diddy to name a few with a rotating door of surprise guests.

There was such a groove that Darien had completely lost track of the time and what was supposed to be 2 songs turned into and hour and fifteen minutes.  It wasn't until Badu finished 'Mama's Gun' with Questlove's drums acting as gunshots that he realized how long we had been there.  Erykah left the stage and the band was in a trance.

Fearing the the show might be almost over, Darien asked to leave so that we could beat the crowds and get something to eat.  We were so crazed getting there we never ate!!!  As a right of passage I took him to South Philly to let him make an important choice.  Pat's or Geno's.  Geno's won out.  It was perhaps the highlight of his night.

On the car ride home he asked if I could play The Roots.  We went through their discography playing some of my favorite songs.  It was midnight and before long he was sleeping in the car.  Every night since then he has been listening to The Roots.  Their show made him a fan.  Many thanks again to my friend for making this happen.  You made my son's night.  For that I can never repay you.  It was a bonding experience that money can not buy.

See you at the next show.


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