AfroPunk 2017 descended on Atlanta to deliver a Carnival of Consciousness and a sensational lineup that included Solange, Miguel, Princess Nokia, and more. Though AfroPunk Atlanta delivered an excellent line-up and drew thousands, the electric ambiance of the festival is what made it stand apart as an event that has a true call to action.
Nestled in the historic community of Mechanicsville, the campgrounds mirrored a colorful and industrial-like wonderland, woven through a neighborhood with rich records of Black excellence, dating back to the 19th century.
Originally drawn to AfroPunk Brooklyn for its star-studded bill featuring the likes of SZA and Nao, I’m glad I decided to attend the Atlanta event, as well. Brooklyn’s edition of the festival is on a larger scale, so naturally, the venue space for Atlanta was smaller but the close-knit set up worked in Atlanta’s favor to provide a more concentrated experience.
As soon as I walked through the gates, I was instantly engulfed by the atmosphere of the festival. To the right of entrance path festival goers were greeted by an insane wall of graffiti to remind people of the “punk” in AfroPunk. Though the festival has been criticized for straying from its completely punk roots, AfroPunk has managed to broaden their audience while threading historical and social awareness driven elements with exhibits and solutions sessions. With the theme being “Woke” AfroPunk displayed art, symbols, and hosted keynote sessions representing and discussing the status of police brutality in America, women’s rights, and African Americans in media.
On Saturday night, Miguel headlined the show. “It’s rare I get to perform in front of a crowd of so many beautiful Black faces,” said the R&B singer. As Miguel glided back and forth on stage in his simple t-shirt and jeans, constantly flipping his locs from his face, he performed sensualized renditions of his songs that had the audience holding on to his every note.
Regardless of the concert city, AfroPunk is known for its fashion. Its accepting aura is what makes its goers comfortable to dress in unorthodox fashions to express themselves. Of course, since we’re in Atlanta, there was an element of conservativeness from attendees. Unlike the Brooklyn fest, there weren’t too many fans walking around in total body paint, but big colorful Afros, unique ensembles, and flower crowns dominated the scene for Atlanta.
Not only is AfroPunk a place of fashion freedom, it is also a place of acceptance of all. With featured performances from artists such as Willow Smith and Mykki Blanco, and soul sessions with celebrity hairstylist Miss Lawrence, AfroPunk successfully found a way to provide not only a haven for Black people but inclusion for all. There were tons of LGBT brothers and sisters who decided to flourish and unapologetically be themselves at AfroPunk Atlanta.
Solange headlined the Sunday show, giving a performance almost identical to her Brooklyn performance, but it seemed more intimate. The Atlanta stage was much smaller than the one in Brooklyn’s Commodore Park, but it allowed fans to have a closer connection to the songstress and her lyrics. As the stage gleamed with red lights and trumpets blew, Solange flawlessly and passionately sang words of social consciousness and injustices to perfectly wrap up the theme of the weekend.
AfroPunk isn’t exclusive to Atlanta. There are five festivals that take place annually, bringing cultural magic to London, Paris, Brooklyn, and Johannesburg, South Africa.
AfroPunk’s motto of “No sexism, no racism, no ableism, no homophobia, no fatphobia, no transphobia, no hatefulness” reigned true at this year’s Atlanta festival. Hopefully, festivalgoers truly embodied the essence of the festival and took these elements outside of the campgrounds to make the world a better and more accepting place.
See pictures below.