A year ago, I was a complete novice to the music festival scene. I was aware it existed, heck, I even headed a website that revolved around it, but I was under the strict impression that I was far too much of a grandma to ever enjoy being sequestered on some island with a bunch of rave kids clad in bright neon colors, pretending to listen to music when really they’re just there on all of the drugs.
Fast forward 365 days, the best weekend of my life at TomorrowWorld, six other festivals later, and here’s me, entirely obsessed with dat festival life.
Anyone who knows me knows I don’t listen to electronic music, rock, hip hop, or really anything these festivals have to offer, music wise. Since high school, I’ve been the proud ambassador of oldies, classic rock and Miley Cyrus. So what exactly is it that drew me in to this world of music madness?
Just that: the madness.
Ask anyone who’s ever been and they’ll be able to tell you festivals are brimming with madness, be it good or bad, annoying or entertaining, exhausting or inspiring. It’s like a coming together of strangers in a field while some DJs press buttons. Everyone dances around the only way you can to that kind of music, which is horribly. Everyone acts like they love each other and world peace seems possible until some dude punches some other dude when he tries to kiss his girl.
It’s just all so entertaining.
But, wait, back up — What does all this blabbery have to do with Afropunk?
Glad you asked, because this: Afropunk stands alone as the singular festival that offers chill vibes, live vocals and instruments, and rather affordable drinks.
But more than that, Afropunk celebrates a culture — an actual one and not the made up “rave culture” thing. And so in that regard, as far as people coming together for the music and uniting as one, well, I’ve never felt more feels.
Not to repeat myself, but also to repeat myself, Afropunk was astoundingly chill. Although when you factor in all the marijuana permeating the air, I guess it’s not that astounding. Being that the last festival I attended before Afropunk was Warped Tour, you can imagine my surprise when attendees were sitting on blankets, picnicking as they listened to the music. Yes, live picnicking at a music festival. Never in a million years did I think I would see people kicking back and relaxing at a music festival, aside from SunFest in Southfla, but at Afropunk, this is indeed a thing.
It really is kind of nice. Although sometimes it’s worrisome you might get stepped on when the crowds roll in for the headliners.
Were awesome. Dressed in their bohemian best, the beautiful faces at Afroupunk were kind, happy and polite. As opposed to the pushy crowds at other festivals, the Afropunk attendee always says “excuse me” when trying to get through, and never cuts you in the bathroom line. Speaking of, they were never too long and surprisingly clean once inside. But more notable than all that, nobody at Afropunk wanted to stand in a crowd — my guess is because it totally and completely fucks with the zen. Of course, for the headliners people ushered closer to the stage, but everyone still kept a safe distance from having to breathe in each other’s air. It was a welcome change.
Was Great. I mean, how can you mess up with Lenny Kravitz? As a matter of fact, a guy I was talking to on Tinder at the time actually said, “When I heard Lenny was headlining I paid the festival no mind.” So I deaded him right there. Because nobody has time for that. Which is to say, Lenny is and was amazing, playing all the songs we all know and love with the energy of someone half his age. Sadly though, there was no #PenisGate2.0.
Gary Clark Jr. was another standout, opening for Lenny on Sunday night, and living proof that old school rock & roll has not died. Saturday night I saw Lauryn Hill take to the stage, which was really awesome because she actually showed up semi on-time, and Grace Jones closed. Her colorful set was invigorating, inspiring and hella- entertaining. Even from the way way back behind many heads.
So ya, Afropunk was pretty great, and a HUGE change of pace from every other festival under the sun. And to make that even easier to comprehend, I’ve made this handy Venn Diagram: