June 25-27, 2010
I had the great opportunity to escape the D.C. humidity last weekend and head up to Brooklyn, New York for the sixth annual Afro-Punk Festival. The creators of the Afro-Punk Festival describe Afro-Punk as a movement geared towards crossing cultural boundaries and embracing individuality and this uniqueness was clearly evident throughout the weekend. The festival began Friday with BMX and Skate competitions for interested participants. The music portion of the festival started Saturday with acts such as P.O.S., The Bots, Ninjasonik, and others all opening for the evening's headliner, Bad Brains. Fitting with the whole point of the Afro-Punk Festival, there was a wide range of music genres represented throughout the weekend but each set was connected in that they all required tons of dancing (or jumping) and lots of sweat. The Bots were probably my favorite performance Saturday night. They haven't even graduated from high school yet (the drummer is actually only 12), and the duo behind The Bots, brothers Mikaiah and Anaiah Lei, seem to have already amassed a strong following of fans. Their music ranges from punk to reggae and everything in between. Both boys are really talented musicians and by the time they actually do finish high school they're going to be pretty much unstoppable. They are eagerly anticipating the July 25th release of their debut album Self-Titled Album and I'm excited to hear what they're bringing. As for the most anticipated set of the night, often named the originators of the Punk genre, Bad Brains were amazing. They performed songs from their 1982 self-titled album (including the infamous "Banned in D.C.") to tracks off their latest 2007 release, Build A Nation. Even if you're like me and not the biggest fan of punk rock, watching lead vocalist H.R. on stage is an adventure in itself. Just standing in front of the mic he displays this spiritual aurora as if he's going to perform some voodoo on you just from eye contact. His essence combined with the rest of the band's playing created a crazy connection between those on stage and everyone watching in the audience.
Sunday was longer and hotter but still amazing. The lineup included Martin Luther, J*Davey, The Cool Kids, and the legendary Mos Def. Kid-Cudi also made a guest appearance during The Cool Kids' set which pretty much sent the crowd off into frantic screaming. All of the artists played great sets but the highlight of the night was definitely Mos Def. If you have not yet had the chance to see Mos Def live I highly recommend you do so asap! He is such an amazing live performer: completely confident on stage but still humble enough to read and play off the vibe from the crowd. Majority of the songs performed during his set were from his 2009 album The Ecstatic but he took it back a few times for the fans to play select songs from his debut album Black On Both Sides. Mos Def was hands-down my favorite performance from the whole festival but I was introduced to a bunch of awesome new bands and played witness to some great performances. Overall, Afro-Punk is definitely a unique festival and I'm excited to add this to my regular list of annual summer concerts.
-- Dominique Barron
Check out the photos below: