AFROPUNK is a two-day music festival billed as a platform for the alternative and experimental. Originating with the 2003 documentary that highlighted the Black presence in the American punk scene, the festival commandeered Brooklyn’s Commodore Barry Park on August 23-24. After a Megabus ride, an eventful interaction with the New York subway system and a 15-minute walk, I arrived at my first AFROPUNK.
Accompanied by my partner in crime Rage, we took a quick survey of the festival site-four stages, food trucks and a marketplace. For the first few hours we meandered around the park, catching snippets of performances and people watching (there was plenty to see, my pupils still hurt). The tenth annual event had a laid back vibe evident in the carefree dancing, maxi dresses and requisite flower headbands. The Saturday evening lineup was right up my alley.
A massive crowd began assembling for Alice Smith. Her a cappella intro to song Cabaret stormed the stage before I could see her. Her rich yet rugged voice enthralled the audience. The Grammy nominee sailed through tunes such as Ocean, Be Easy and Fool for You. Her vocal prowess was on full display during The One with lush riffs and runs. The songbird worked the stage clad in body-hugging polka dot ensemble and closed with the bluesy She.
I didn’t move because next on the schedule was British sensation Lianne La Havas. Lianne was excited to spend her 25th birthday in NYC. Guitar in hand and always smiling, she sang hits from her debut album Is Your Love Big Enough. She performed new song Ghost and during Au Cinema she hit us with an interlude of Stevie Wonder’s Master Blaster. The setting sun and her clear, soulful voice made for a great summer evening. She can be heard on the single Clouds, a collaboration with none other than Prince.
Finally willing to leave our prime spot, we walked over to the Red Stage to see O.G., Scotty Appleton, actor, rocker Ice-T and his band Body Count. The band performed Talk Shit, Get Shot, Enter the Darkside from Manslaughter, the group’s first release in eight years. In the midst of the night darkness and screeching guitars, a man asked me to help him with his camera. My road dog looked at me said, “Do you know who that was?” It was Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine (or his long-lost twin). There Goes the Neighborhood and 99 Problems, popularized by Jay Z, got the crowd surfing, jumping and screaming. The 30-year music veteran brought Law and Order colleague Danny Pino on stage toward the end of the set.
Our hunt for nourishment led us to Forno Rosso Pizzeria. The Brooklyn eatery had an eclectic crowd. We chatted with a California father visiting his daughter. More memorable than the cuisine was the amazing R&B playlist. Rage and I took turns guessing the next song. While enjoying our food we heard Ginuwine, Tevin Campbell, H-Town, Color Me Badd, En Vogue and Destiny’s Child among others.
We were slightly inappropriate singing at the table with our mouths full of Italian goodness.Tweet This
Day one of my first AFROPUNK conquered. Day two is coming next week.
lyricfancy uses music as a conduit to humorously discuss human nature. This article is in no way a personal judgment about the artist. We believe in creative expression.