Over the weekend, the Afropunk Festival celebrated its 10 year anniversary. The event always brings out the best names in music today. From rising youngsters Unlocking The Truth to R&B titan D'Angelo, this festival is a smorgasbord of genres with only one purpose: bringing people together.
While the drizzling rain might've been a nuisance for some, Texan trio Blxpltn (Blaxploitation) made the uncertain weather change somewhat pleasant at the Red Stage on Saturday. The band's sound meshes the punk prowess of Black Flag and the electronic onslaught of Atari Teenage Riot with some Wu-Tang Clan vibes thrown in. It was really hard to describe who was the actual frontperson of this band. These three members, electro drummer/vocalist TaSzlin Muerte, bassist/synth/vocalist Jonathan "Javelin" Horstmann, and guitarist/vocalist Khattie, each held their own. Following them on the same stage were Shabazz Palaces, who drew a massive crowd during their half hour performance. The experimental hip hop duo gave the crowd some off kiltered grooves, synchronized dance moves, and a guest appearance from fellow Seattle hip hop duo (and fellow labelmates) THEESatisfaction.
The situation in Ferguson, Missouri has certainly impacted this country in numerous ways. Cipher vocalist Moe Mitchell talked about his recent experience in the city, stating,"This is a tipping point moment in this country." During Cipher's set, Moe led the entire crowd with the chant "Hands up, don't shoot". Cipher haven't played a show in quite some time, but the Long Island metalcore band still know how to engage with the crowd, both musically and intellectually. The band dedicated the set to founding member Danny Bobis, who died in 2011.
If there was an Afropunk MVP Award, California hardcore punk band Trash Talk would probably win it, hands down. At last year's event, the band, which Afropunk host Telly called "the baddest in the land", led a massive riot which led to barricades being knocked down. This year, the folks behind the festival kept the barricade activity to a minimum near the Red Stage.
"I won't stand for this standing around shit," yelled Trash Talk frontman Lee Spielman to an already amped up audience. To further emphasize his statement, the frontman worked his way into the crowd where fans created a massive circle pit around Lee, who was mistakenly punched in the face during the frantic moment. Some folks ran away from the calamity which took place. Vinyl copies of Trash Talk's new album No Peace were hurled into the crowd as the band performed tracks like "Walking Disease" and "Awake".
To close their set, Lee demanded that everyone ran across the park to catch Bad Brains' set. Reminiscent of last year, a huge crowd rushed their way to the Black Stage. While the stampede was underway, bassist Spencer Pollard climbed the stage and plucked some chords while looking out at the entire park. It's almost scary thinking about what Trash Talk might have up their sleeves for their next Afropunk Festival appearance.
"You look like a bunch of pussies. Move your fucking ass," ordered Ice T during Body Count's raucous performance. With cries of "Purge", the legendary rapper/actor and his crew made their return to Brooklyn after their stint on the Rockstar Mayhem Festival. Danny Pino, Ice-T's co-star on Law and Order: SVU, decided to make a cameo appearance during the band's riff laden set. Body Count went through several classics ("There Goes The Neighborhood", "Bowels Of The Devil"), a cover of The Exploited's "Disorder", and songs from their new album Manslaughter. "Ladies, have you noticed your boyfriend is growing a vagina?," asked the rapper before going into "Manslaughter", a track which he states is based on the "pussification of manhood".
"All rise for the New York national anthem," said Ice-T before "Cop Killer", a track that is still a touchy subject 20 years later. "I play one on TV. They can suck my dick," said the rapper during the explosive finale, which featured guest vocals from Brooklyn rapper Smoothe da Hustler. Noticing a couple of NYC police officers at the side, Ice-T pointed at one of them and cheerfully said, "Hi, officer."
On Sunday, Tennessee metal outfit Straight Line Stitch brought the riffs over at the Green Stage. Even though a plethora of people were laid out on the green grass, they were forced to relocate for the time being due to a handful of moshers present. Straight Line Stitch frontwoman Alexis Brown's vicious growls were enough to frighten a few unsuspecting folks in the crowd. The band released a brand new EP and will continue to work on more new music for their loyal fans.
"We're gonna drop the big poo poo right on your forehead," stated Fishbone frontman Angelo Moore before opening with "Party At Ground Zero". The influential ska act have been dazzling audiences since the late 70s, and they still have the same energy and drive they possessed over 30 years ago. Crowdsurfers, both young and old, and onlookers gave the lively band their full attention as they ran through fan favorites like "Ma & Pa" and their cover of Curtis Mayfield's "Freddie's Dead". Ending their set with "Sunless Saturday", the band's jovial aura spread out all over Commodore Barry Park.