This Summer I was fortunate to experience AfroPunk Fest NYC, I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed the experience. AfroPunk Fest is a festival that began 10 years ago and its purpose was to shine more attention to indie rock/punk /hardcore performed by Black bands. The culture of the festival encompasses open-minded, unconventional alternative, skater, punk, hip-hop culture that isn’t seen in the mainstream.The festival has grown from being held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) to filling the three-stage venue of Commodore Barry Park for two days, spreading to Atlanta in October and earlier this year across the ocean to Paris. The motto for the fest was, “No sexism, no racism, no ageism, no homophobia, no fatphobia, no transphobia, no hatefulness”: So definitely a positive mood environment and it was great!
Friday’s kick-off was a dress ball to fund the many charities that AfroPunk works with throughout the year, called the Global Initiative.I didn’t attend unfortunately but the Ball was a chance for attendees to rub shoulders with the performers, especially the Queen of the Ball, Grace Jones.
I attended both days of the concert, although I didn’t get all the fabulosity of Sunday. The crowd was huge, beautiful, colorful, and happy. The vibe was so welcoming and everyone there to have a great time. The acts started from 1 pm on each one of the three stages to the last performance starting around 9:30 pm and the mini market for in between the artists and the food truck rally to round it all out.
Saturday, the line up was really packed. I stayed at the green stage with my friends and my blanket for most of the day it was kicked off with Candiria, Lion Babe, SZA, Beverly Bond, Kelis, Lauryn Hill and Grace Jones. In between each artist was a DJ set and/or a poetry reading. Today the spoken word was about #TransLivesMatter.
Ok let me just preface by saying that my main purpose for going on Saturday was the to see the Queen, who is none other than Grace Jones, and I was not disappointed in the least. Grace Jones is 67 years young and performed a 90-minute set topless, corseted with various headdresses and body paint. She hula-hooped throughout one whole song while singing and that hoop did not dare to drop. I wish I was that fit! She was so engaging, joking with the audience, she walked through the crowd and took pictures while singing. She’s a performer in the truest sense.
And on Sunday, after getting home around 1:30 am, I came later in the day because my feet were so sore from the previous day of dancing on the grass. The line up was just as good but I was worn out and needed more sleep so I missed some of the earlier performers to my dismay. I missed Jesse Boykins III and Vintage Trouble. But I did catch Gary Clark Jr. and my boyfriend in my head Lenny Kravitz. I just have to gush over Lenny Kravitz because I have had a crush on him since, “Fly Away” and Lisa Bonet.
I forgot all about my sore feet and broken camera when he came on stage. Btw that’s why I have so few good pictures and the phone I had at the time was constantly having issues so it wouldn’t focus on video. But his 90 minutes had the crowd from beginning to end. The background singers were so energetic and the band was so talented! I just can’t put into words how great that was.You can see my video here and yes that is me singing in the background.
This was his first performance in the neighborhood where he grew up so it was extra special and he gave it his all. The crowd couldn’t get enough and neither could I. And yes as the hashtag says I actually touched him!!! He walked through the crowd and we made eye contact and he held my hand!! Let me be twelve for a second and gush ok…?
I will never forget this night and I will be back next year, the experience was too good not to repeat it. Have you been to a music festival? Who are your favorite musical artists to watch perform? Tell me all about it in the comments below, I really want to hear all about it.
Until our next rendezvous…
14 thoughts on “AfroPunk Fest NYC”
I remember us talking about this, so I’m glad you got this post out! You summed this up so well and next year I am definitely going to try to get to Afro-Punk! I’m not so familiar with Grace Jones’ music, but I think she is amazing. I read an article about her in the Times recently. I love her attitude!
Thanks, since my camera died I didn’t have any good pictures so I had to piece things together. And I still didn’t get all the video I asked for till after I posted today. I did the best I could, lol. I don’t know all of her songs either but it was a great primer. I want to read her biography that she just released.
I think it looks great. You pieced it together well. Yes I want to read that biography too. It is out of my usual scope, but I have always found her interesting. Plus I think she was one of the most memorable James Bond characters ever!
I forgot about Bond !!That woman has lived!!
Oh yeah, indeed!!
Amazing event! And so wonderfully documented for those of us who couldn’t be there!
Hi my friend! How are you? Thank you for visiting me after the disaster last time.
That looks great Trudy! We feel you REALLY enjoyed it! What a chance you had to see Grace Jones… I used to admire her when I was a young girl, her androgynous and still so so feminine beauty! Wow, how I envy you! 😉
Thank you, I did have a great time! I plan to make it a ritual. I wish my camera hadn’t given me problems so that had footage of the performances. I regret that. How are you doing in Nairobi?
Cameras are never there when you need them! I know what it is. Nairobi is great thanks. Still discovering the basics but I try to see everything with new eyes. A good experience so far!
I’m glad, hopefully it will feel like home soon.
Sounds like you had a fabulous time! You got to see Grace Jones and touch Lenny Kravitz? I am in the presence of one blessed child. lol Thanks for sharing all the lovely photos and video!
Yes I did!!! I touched him! She put the others to shame. If only my electronics weren’t taking the day off I would’ve taken more pictures but it was an awesome weekend!