Afro-Punk started as a documentary lived by James Spooner, in which he toured across America looking for people like him — people of color with an admiration for Punk Rock.
Accompanying the DVD release of Afro-Punk was a music compilation, comprised of artists and bands who are viewed as "Black/African American". Six years later, with an overhauled website, a community of thousands, hundreds of artist, four annual festivals deep, and a nationwide tour headlined by Black Stacey, Saul Williams, enter Afro-Punk.
The City of Philadelphia was wet and slightly chilly, but inside the Theatre of the Living Arts the temperature was warm, and the air was electric. Arriving early and walking through the venue, the merch booth was setup and ready to go, a large canvas and bags of paint were off to the right side of the stage in the crowd area, Cx Kidtronik was casually walking about, and a DJ held down the stage, mixing sounds of Hip-Hop, Jungle, and Rock while concert goers patiently awaited the start of the evening.
Everyone but the B-boys, that is. If the party won't start, start your own party. For as long as the grooves were spinning, these guys were the center of attention with their twists, kicks, and jumps. The crowd looked upon the troupe, hands clapping and smiles on their faces, but there was still more to come.
Tchaka Diallo aka Kiko of Krak Attack came out to host the show and introduce the first group — from Houston, TX, American Fangs.
A banner adorned the stage, reminiscent of the Rocky Horror Picture Show logo, the drummer was already on his stool banging away while the rest of the band walked out. AF plays with a need for attention. The energy flows through every member as they make their way around the stage, singing in unison, jumping on monitors, and spitting on the floor. Who can stand still? The drumming will force goers to bounce and nod, while the licks and melodies will cause everyone to let go and enjoy themselves. When frontman, Gus walks on in a light gray shirt, but his shirt looks like it's charcoal gray when he leaves, you have to know that he gave it his all. American Fangs were the standouts of the evening.
Diallo took the stage once again to introduce a new aspect to the show — flatland BMX riders! Jeff and Cooly had the audience in amazement. Tricks landed or not, there was nothing but respect.
The next act came out of Philadelphia, PA. Originally billed as Black Landlord, but for whatever reason, they weren't present, which is unfortunate, because I was looking forward to seeing them perform again. A new band by the name of West Vienna took their place instead. Something about these guys seemed very familiar, and maybe it was because West Vienna is actually Phil Moore Browne! Even though a member or two has been replaced, the feeling was relative. Whether you call them Phil Moore Browne, or you call them West Vienna, both bands are an act you need to see to truly appreciate. WV is not as rowdy as PMB, but they are fun to watch. Punk is alive in Philly, and its name is West Vienna!
Once again, Jeff and Cooly came out to battle. Meanwhile, the painting was coming along nicely.
Rushing back to the stage to see the next act, Saul Williams was seen walking back and forth off to the side. Suddenly, with makeup on his face and feathers in his hair, there he was on a bike. "My band doesn't know I'm down here," he said. Saul had a little chit-chat with the crowd until his band came out in support. The group consisted of a guitar player, a keyboard player, and Cx Kidtronik on an MPC. Niggy Tardust was at the forefront of the stage spouting off his list of poetic, musical, and cultural influences. Amethyst Rockstar was absent, but doing songs from his self titled album, as well as The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust, his daughter, Saturn joined him on stage for a few songs, grabbing the microphone from Cx Kidtronik, flailing about in a dance party fashion with her father. The TLA was in full party mode with Williams on stage. If there was any downside to the set, it was that Saul did not perform Act III, Scene II (Shakespeare). Covered in sweat with feathers from his 'do laying scattered on the stage floor, Niggy Tardust has left the building.
The night closed out with Krak Attack performing a few songs. They probably would have fared better, had they gone on before Saul Williams, because a sizeable portion of the audience vacated when Williams left the stage. Krak Attack definitely has the kind of music to give people a reason to act foolishly and cut loose, but the timing was off for that night.
With the concert all wrapped up, it would be a great disservice to call it a show. It was an experience!
Thanks to all involved for a great time!