The Mann Center was a new location for the Roots Picnic last year

💡 Get Philly smart 💡
with BP’s free daily newsletter

Read the news of the day in less than 10 minutes — not that we’re counting.

Updated June 2

For more than a decade, the Roots Picnic was one of the summer’s hottest events on the Delaware River waterfront. It was in a totally new location this year — but despite a small panic in the early evening, the move proved a success.

The sold-out show at the Mann Center brought 25,000 fans to Fairmount Park, according to The Inquirer, which is nearly 50 percent more than the event had ever drawn in the past.

People came out to hear dozens of artists throughout the day, including Philly favorites Questlove and Black Thought. The two Roots leaders joined the rest of the band to close out the night with a reprise of their breakthrough album Things Fall Apart, in celebration of its 20th anniversary.

The lineup full of popular black artists was indicative of a new direction for the concert venue. In the past, the Mann has been known more for its classical and showtunes concerts — with many white performers drawing majority-white audiences.

Who was there this weekend? Local spinners like DJ Aktive rubbed shoulders with national names like Common.

Self-made star Queen Naija, whose 2017 album became a hit before she even signed to a label, impressed fans with a strong set just four months after having a baby.

During 21 Savage’s set, a minor panic broke out, when suddenly hundreds of concert-goers ran from the Fairmount Park stage.

According to a concert attendee who spoke with security staff, the cause of the turmoil was a fistfight near the second-largest of three stages.

False rumors quickly spread that there was an active shooter, which fueled fears across the outdoor venue. Philly police arrived on scene shortly after the initial panic, and remained on site. Thousands of attendees left the concert before the final headliners took the stage. Others waited out the melee in makeshift tents and shelters.

Local photographer Karyn Narissia was working the concert when the charge began. She got pushed around a bit and sought treatment at the event’s on-site medical tent. She told Billy Penn that she thought she broke her hand in the disturbance.

“We were standing close to the stage and enjoying 21 Savage, and out of nowhere a mob just started running,” said Tamera Cato, another concert attendee, who immediately assumed the drama was an active shooter. “When you see other people running, you just start running.”

Police recorded five injuries at the event, per 6ABC. No weapons were found.

Avatar photo

Danya Henninger

Danya Henninger is director of Billy Penn at WHYY, where she oversees the team, all editorial decisions, and all revenue generation — including the...