Rebellion is part of the black identity in American society. So is the punk culture, which means a Brooklyn festival named AfroPunk should see a number of raised fists and diatribes against The Man. That theme was an undercurrent — Body Count’s set ended with some fists raised — but the focus was more on an almost bohemian sense of black diversity.
There was some thrash brutality going on one stage a couple of meters from where a soul/funk revival was occurring. Earlier that Saturday afternoon, a few of the old-school cats were blasting James Brown’s “The Payback” in front of nearby public housing. Despite the early raindrops, Commodore Barry Park was packed with an African American crowd aware, but unweighted by outside circumstance — like the gentrification in the surrounding Fort Greene neighborhood.
The AfroPunk festival came on a weekend where Arcade Fire performed at Barclays Center (also not too far from Commodore Barry) and the much-hyped Trillectro descended upon Washington, D.C. Regardless of the ensuing competition, the two-day event attracted over 60 talented acts and proved quite exhilarating.
However, black power has its limitations. For example: You can cover about a fraction of the events when you have one writer on the ground. It was a decent fill, however, from the gravitational experimentation of Shabazz Palaces to the “Special Guest” headliner. Check out the following slides for coverage of the bigger acts and some facial intensity.