*Like most experiences, mine is extremely unique. This review will be an honest take from my own experience”
I went to Afropunk Brooklyn on August 24th and 25th, 2019. For those who don’t know, the festival, according to Wikipedia, “was created as a safe space for black alternative-minded punks to freely express themselves and build a community with one another.” The definition of the word “punk” is disputed across many circles, I like the phrase “alternatively minded” a little better. This year’s fest was held in Commodore Barry Park.
I wanted to go to Afropunk because of three reasons of equal weight: fashion, music and because it offered a space for black people that were like me. I had been seeing Afropunk outfit pictures amongst other festival fashion inspiration pages for several years and have always wanted to go to just for the festival fashion aspect. I thought about my outfit for months during the planning stages of the trip to Brooklyn. I never definitively decided on anything until it was too late of course. It was my first time in any state north of Virginia so I was really taking it all in.
On day one, I was extremely tired after walking around Brooklyn all day before the festival. I also didn’t know what to expect so I was really going through a lot of emotions. I saw Leikeli47, Tierra Whack (who brought out Alicia Keys), Leon Bridges and Jill Scott. Like a typical music festival, the artists performed on different stages around the park and we all scrambled to see our favorite artists on time. Leikeli47 had the whole crowd shaking their asses and bobbing their heads to her songs. Tierra Whack had a wonderfully weird stage presence and I was very surprised to see Alicia Keys come out there with her. Leon Bridges sung his heart out for 2 hours while I waited in line for a vegan BBQ sandwich; he really gave us all a show. The last performer of the night was Jill Scott and she was fabulous. Her onstage presence was magical, her vocals were amazing and she played a lot of the songs I grew up listening to. The fashion from day one was amazing! I saw some really well curated, creative and bold looks from all kinds of people. The energy in the air was chaotic, but I felt safe like I was right where I was supposed to be.
On day two I came in tired again after another long day. We arrived late to Toro y Moi, but heard his last two songs through the gates. On this day I brought a camcorder I checked out from the library and it was the best decision I’d ever made. I got a chance to bring home a lot of what I saw at the festival with me. This day I saw Scarlxrd, Lianne La Havas, Masego and another act whose name I don’t know. The energy from the crowd and Scarlxrd was so exciting to watch happen in front of me. His fans are dedicated and his stage presence is one I won’t forget. Lianne La Havas’s show was sweet, chill and romantic. Her voice was like pillows. After Lianne, we saw Masego. He was my favorite performance of the night because I knew the most of his songs, he played the sax and because the crowd around me was so engaged while we all danced our asses off together to his music. Also Masego’s rendition of Andre 3000’s “Prototype’’ was very well done. The outfits on this day were fantastic. I saw so many people and they really did a terrific job at coordinating colors, creating stories and expressing themselves with their outfits.
What I love the most about Afropunk is that it was a space that was created specifically for black people. What happened in Commodore Barry Park in Brooklyn was an amazing thing. It allowed all kinds of people to come together to present a culmination of styles, cultures, lifestyles and music tastes. It was a beautiful experience for any black person to have.