Next weekend Bonnaroo Music Festival kicks off in Manchester, Tennessee and we gave you a little preview of what to expect a few months back. But for people who live in cities like NYC and cannot make the trip to the rural south there are a number of festivals that happen locally every year that are equally worth our attention. The recent announcement that Afropunk Fest 2015 is returning to Brooklyn on August 22nd and 23rd for what is slated to be the biggest incarnation of the event yet is especially exciting. Just last month the festival gained international recognition when the promoters held the event in Paris for the first time ever. The festival has been described by the New York Times as, “a diverse, welcoming, unpredictably multicultural picnic,” but it is also about, “fracturing the idea of what black arts are, [and] what black music is.”
It is a weekend of live music that takes place in Brooklyn, which is historically one of the centers of black culture, but rather than playing into stereotypes about what black art, music and culture are Afropunk Fest creates a space for those who are not necessarily embraced by the mainstream to do their thing. Saul Williams, who headlined the festival in 2009 and 2013, is a poet, hip-hop artist and rock musician. He is quoted in the Times saying, “Afropunk is a great place of self-expression for a lot of kids who otherwise might feel weird or not part of the larger exchange going on in this country.”
Originally it started as a small event held at Brooklyn’s BAMCafé back in 2004, but last year it attracted more than 60,000 attendees to Commodore Barry Park in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. This year it will return to the same location and tickets will run $75 for the weekend or $45 for a single-day pass. Also one aspect of the festival that is unique is that people who cannot afford to attend have the option of volunteering for their admission through local organizations.
From the website:
AFROPUNK has been long known as an advocate of cultural change as well as change directly in the Brooklyn community. The earned ticket program, called AFROPUNK Army, expounds upon that giving fans the chance to volunteer for the earned ticket. AFROPUNK will work closely with partners to provide low barrier volunteer activities and projects for youth to complete in exchange for a ticket to the festival. The volunteer program will create awareness for organizations in need, provide access to an engaged pool of valuable resources and help deliver a sustainable impact to communities. Sample projects include landscaping (beautification, painting), packing supplies (meal prep, serving) and advocacy via social promotion.
It is important to point out that while Afropunk Fest 2015 is one of the biggest events to come out of the Afropunk “scene” there is a nationwide and possibly global movement that extends far beyond music. The Times notes, “Afropunk.com is a lively online network of blogs, message boards and subgroups in which visitors discuss fashion, film, racial identity and gender politics. Mr. Morgan and Ms. Cooper estimate that four million users come to the site or interact with it on social media each week.”
As far as this year’s performers go the line-up is eclectic and surely some people will be disappointed that it is a little more pop-friendly than in year’s past, but there is still plenty for the underground to be excited about including Grace Jones, Kelis, Danny Brown, Suicidal Tendencies, Thundercat, Young Paris, Nadus, Kaytranada, Curtis Harding and more.
Be sure to flip through the gallery at the top for pictures of each artist and let us know in the comments if you think this is something you might like to hit up this summer.
The full artist line-up is as follows:
Cakes Da Killa
Ms. Lauryn Hill
Gary Clark Jr.
Jessie Boykins III
What: Afropunk Fest 2015 (Brooklyn)
Where: Commodore Barry Park (aka City Park) in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, NYC
When: August 22 & 23
More Info: http://afropunkfest.com