Ask an artist at this year’s Afropunk festival about the meaning of the event’s name at your own peril, especially if that artist is young enough to tell you what they actually think.
“HA,” said 19 year old Bailey Mckeithan, whose teen rock group The Skins, comprised of her brother, sister, and guitarist friends, became the first band in recent Afropunk history to play back to back years of the festival. Afropunk founder Matthew Morgan has been a major supporter of the young, native Brooklynites who seem to embody the black rock chic aesthetic that ruled Commodore Barry Park this weekend. They were the first group to take the stage in 2013, the fest’s eighth year in existence.
Backstage with her baby brother, in her self-bedazzled denim overalls, Mckeithan was patient with me.
“Literally? That’s the question? That’s what everyone asks. But that’s okay, because I’ve got my answer down. It can mean an individual persona, or the larger community. It encourages people to be awesome and free and just not give a fuck.”
Others had less tolerance for cliche. Later that day, I caught heavy metal sixth graders Unlocking the Truth — who recently became everyone’s favorite little dudes when a video of them busking in Times Square led to Internet fame — with a video camera a foot from their faces, being asked the dreaded question.
“Afropunk is … everything,” drummer Jarad Dawkins answered, a little softly. “What?” Alec Atkins (bassist) said. “That is stupid,” said Malcolm Brickhouse (electric guitar), reading his bandmate to filth in front of an eager bank of media representatives.
However you want to define the culture created by Morgan and co-founder James Spooner, AHDM4U lived for it. Here’s some of our favorite images from the last few days of shows, afterparties, and near-constant style photography clusterfuck (“Can I take your photo?’ “Sure, do you mind if I take yours?” being just as much the theme of the weekend as any Saul Williams or Mykki Blanco song.)