The first Afropunk Music Festival in 2005, then held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, was the launching pad for New York's most alternative and multi-cultural annual music festival. Thousands of avant garde New Yorkers once again turned out for this year's festival in Commodore Barry Park in Brooklyn on August 21-23. As in recent years, three stages featured live music alternating with disc jockeys. Between the stages, not-for-profit social action organizations and local craft workers sponsored tables and booths. Popular local food trucks were parked on the street outside the park. For the first time, the festival opened on Friday night with a gala affair starring Grace Jones. Then all day Saturday and Sunday, the Afropunk Music Festival was a place for the urban alternative culture to see and be seen.
Two long banners alongside the main stage declared the mantra of the AfroPunk festival.
Solana Rowe, better known by her stage name SZA, is a singer-songwriter from St. Louis, Missouri, later relocating to Maplewood, New Jersey. SZA sang a minimalist, ethereal rhythm & blues, with elements of traditional soul, hip hop, and chillwave.
letlive. is a post-punk group formed in 2002 in Los Angeles, California. Vocalist Jason Aalon Alexander Butler moshed in the pit with fans and ended the set by climbing a high tower.
New York native Kelis Rogers, better known mononymously as Kelis, sang cool, sparse rhythm & blues.
Suicidal Tendencies was one of the fathers of crossover thrash when Mike Muir started the band in 1981 in Venice, California. The quintet played hardcore punk with metal riffs.
Raised in South Orange, New Jersey, Ms. Lauren Hill, a former member of the Fugees, sat on a love seat with her acoustic guitar for most of her set, singing smooth rhythm & blues.
Born in Spanish Town, Jamaica, Grace Jones has been a radical force in American dance pop since 1977. At age 67, she is still on the cutting edge, performing topless for the entire set.
Virginia-born emcee GoldLink is piloting the “Future Bounce” genre. His raps were accompanied by polyrhythmic sounds.
Brooklyn-based Aligns was a trio when it won the Afropunk Battle of the Bands 2015. The band performed as a duo (guitar/drums) at the festival, however, playing White Stripes-type garage rock.
Kelela Mizanekristos, known mononymously as Kelela, is a first-generation Ethiopian American, born in Washington, D.C., and now based in Los Angeles, California. She performed low-key electronic dance music with touches of house, electro, R&B, techno, hip hop, and dubstep.
Born and raised in Austin, Texas, Gary Clark Jr. is 31 years old but played blues guitar like the old southern masters, albeit with some distortion and other effects.
New York City native Lenny Kravitz played guitar-based rock well into the late night.