🙂 One of the benefits I was looking forward to when arriving in NYC earlier this year was attending Afro Punk fest in Brooklyn. In summers past my sister and I would stare at instagram and twitter accounts at our kitchen table in rural Michigan as people that looked just like us posted awesome photos of a place that for us looked like a Rockin’ Emerald City.
I checked out the 2 day fest this August and immediately felt at home, walking amongst my alternative music folk with wonder and excitement at all the beautiful people. I didn’t have prior familiarity with bands playing over the course of 2 days, but I came away completely sold on a few for sure-buying up albums, t-shirts and the lot.
One artist that stood out to me was Valerie June. As I stood at the front of her stage peering at the guitar and banjo, I had no idea what I was about to hear. Then came the deep Tennessee accent and the pluck of a bass guitar. Folk music? YES! I had been hankering for some down-home tunes lately and songs like “The Hour” and “Workin’ Woman Blues” were exactly what I needed.
Upon the recommendation of a friend I stopped by The Internet’s show and again was pleasantly surprised. Lead vocalist Syd was smoother than Robin Thicke, making the ladies in the crowd lose it a few times. With as much head-banging as I do, I don’t mind alil R&B every now and then- Which leads us to Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings!
I’d heard of Sharon Jones at past events but never took the opportunity to see her live, it was definitely the best performance I saw at the fest. Her energy was so bright and wild it immediately reminded me of other Soul greats like James Brown or Aretha Franklin, singing out until someone has to come out and carry them off stage from exhaustion. Jones called her gospel style wailing Shouting which was great since where I come from we call it Kick Ass Metal. Lol. But hey, good music is good music.
As a seasoned veteran of Chicago’s Lollapalooza, I’m happy to see so many different kinds of music at this fest because it allows people of color to express the Many alternative sounds we enjoy making, each of them as underground and DIY as 1980s Punk. Like Lollapalooza these festivals become an opportunity for music sub-cultures to mix and mingle, discovering new sounds and making new friends.