8/26/11 UPDATE: The Afro-punk festival has been cancelled due to Hurricane Irene. The event organizers are regrouping to plan the next steps and will keep the public updated about rescheduling the fest.
The seventh annual Afro-Punk Festival takes place this weekend in Brooklyn. The event was started in 2005 to spotlight the underground African-American punk rock and hardcore music scene in New York. Now the festival boasts performances from artists at the top of the music industry.
Cee Lo Green headlines this year's fest. Cee Lo is half of the alt hip-hop group Gnarls Barkley, and his solo 2010 album The Lady Killer sold big. Artists Janelle Monae, Santigold and Das Racist will also perform.
According to Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, who writes about music and pop culture for Alternet.org, the presence of big stars on the bill doesn’t mean that the festival has sold out on its original, do-it-yourself aesthetic.
“Part of the problem with D.I.Y. is sometimes it seems as though it's trying to stay underground, and I think what is probably better for society as a whole is if there is a multiplicity of types of people of color in the mainstream,” said Shepherd. “So, I think it's really a triumph that they have mainstream-ish artists on the bill this year. If its original mission was to show that there wasn’t just one mode that black musicians can be it, it’s really proved its point.”
Below, check out some of the artists on the Afro-Punk festival bill this year.
Janelle Monae The pint-sized soul singer Janelle Monae sports a giant pompadour, men’s suits, and fly dance moves. She cemented her alternative cred by releasing a conceptual first EP titled Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase), based on the 1927 Fritz Lang silent film about robots. Below, watch her perform in WNYC’s Greene Space for Studio 360.
Gordon Voidwell Channeling Prince, the Talking Heads, and the awesome power of analog synthesizers, Gordon Voidwell plays with ideas of race, sex, and privilege to make country-club friendly indie-pop. Below, the video for his breakout song, “Ivy League Circus.”
Toro y Moi Toro y Moi is the stage name of South Carolina native Chazwick Bundick. His music, often described as “Chillwave,” has elements of R&B, indie-rock and plain old ambient weirdness.Tamar-kali Representing the more traditional Afro-Punk aesthetic, Tamar-kali is a straight rock-and-roll kind of gal. She describes her music as “hardcore-soul,” equal parts Billie Holiday and Bad Brains.
The Afro-Punk Festival takes place all day on Saturday and Sunday in Commodore Barry Park in Brooklyn. Admission is free. For a full line-up and schedule, visit the festival’s Web site here.