We’ve been fans of AfroPunk Festival for some time. From its diverse lineup to the fans, the festival’s Brooklyn iteration is now in its fourth year having successfully added events in Paris and Atlanta. AfroPunk is now a movement and it’s one of our favorite festivals to hit up each year. Located in Commodore Barry Park, the festival’s three stages feature up-and-coming acts as well as established veterans from every musical genre. Screamo, punk rock, trap, R&B, and soul all have a place here.
AfroPunk host and resident bad gal, Kimberly Nichole not only did her hosting duties but performed for the first time at the festival with her band. She’s without a doubt a born entertainer with a beautiful voice and finds herself at home on the stage. Hard rock Philadelphia natives Palaceburn kicked off the Red Stage, led by their frontwoman Meredith Bell. We were completely under blues singer Adia Victoria’s spell. Her voice is at once delicate yet strong and she makes it clear she’s going to play you some real blues. We hope to see a lot more of her in the future. Disclosure collaborators Lion Babe came to shake the Green Stage up. Donning her signature mane in mohawk style, singer Jillian Harvey energized the crowd with high kicks. Lion Babe is one of the most exciting acts we’ve heard this year. They even covered The Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated.” One of our faves SZA returned to the festival saying she’s been waiting for this event all summer. We really enjoy how she’s been incorporating more dancing into her live set.
Harlem’s Kelis revealed her pregnancy during her set last night by wearing a bright pink gauzy dress. We’re not sure if it was the sound system or something else, but it wasn’t the quality set we’re used to from her. All the same, she danced and jammed across the stage, hitting an (old) Mariah Carey style high note. We’re grateful Ms. Lauryn Hill didn’t make us wait too long (only 40 minutes). The front row was packed with longtime Hill fans who got a (mis)education as the sun set in Brooklyn. It seems Death Grips are aiming to squash that long-running joke (Will they even show up?!). We were worried for a second, but MC Ride wasn’t playing any games. Ripping off his hoodie and writhing across the stage, his set and attitude were exactly what AfroPunk is about. We couldn’t have prepared for the legendary Grace Jones. Wearing nothing but white body paint, a cape, and a gold skull mask, Jones exploded onto the Green Stage in a way that marveled all of us. We forgot about the heat, the crush of the crowd, and the fact that she was a tiny bit late on stage. All of that didn’t matter because Jones is the kind entertainer that makes your jaw drop.
Not bad for day 1, AfroPunk Fest. This year is shaping up to be bigger and better than ever. Check out our gallery of photos below.
Ms. Lauryn Hill