Afropunk 2016 Day 1 Highlights: Flying Lotus, George Clinton, Tyler, the Creator & More
Summer may be at its tail end, but Afropunk, an annual music festival at Brooklyn's Commodore Barry Park is known for sending the season off with bang.
On Saturday (Aug. 27), the black-centric festival made its anticipated return for the 11th year, bringing droves of individuals from all walks of life out to partake in the numerous festivities that the grounds host. From live music to exchanging good vibes with like-minded individuals, the festival has become one of epic proportions that fuels big name artists like Ice Cube, Janelle Monae and Tyler, The Creator to its stages.
With its kick-off 24 hours behind us, here are some of our favorite moments of Afropunk 2016’s opening day.
Tyler, the Creator Brings Jokes, Energy at Afropunk Debut
Tyler, the Creator’s stage name is starting to make more and more sense these days as he steps up his business savvy to that of a multi-hyphenate juggling his own successful fashion brand, music festival, and media company. But for his Afropunk debut, the 25-year-old Los Angeles native, who got his start in the industry by spitting uncanny bars accompanied with shock factor visuals, brought it back to his musical roots during his hour-long set.
Delivering yet another high-energy set that he’s become notorious for, Tyler kicked things off with “WHAT THE F---K RIGHT NOW,” his riled up remix of Kanye West's "Freestyle 4,” sprinting his way on stage while his Odd Future cohorts Taco and Jasper held down the turntables and hyped up the crowd with occasional ad libs, respectively.
Treating everyone to his wacky stage presence -- including plenty of dance moves and jokes about someone in the crowd resembling Eric Benet -- he ran through his hefty catalog stemming from albums Wolf, Goblin and Cherry Bomb, and collaborative efforts like The OF Tape Vol. 2. “Domo 23” had the most hands in the air as Tyler summoned everyone to take off their shirts and join in on the ballsy fun of barking back the catchy hook
“Yo, this is tight. I ain’t never seen this many black people in the crowd in my f---king life,” he said. “I love all of y’all.”
DJ Lindsey Delivers Southern Hospitality to NYC
There was certainly a lack of female talents gracing Afropunk’s stages on day 1, but New York transplant (by way of St. Louis and Atlanta) DJ Lindsey brought a gumbo of tunes for festival-goers to jam to while taking in the sprawling site of Commodore Barry Park. Known for keeping crowds moving at events hosted by models Naomi Campbell and Iman, as well as late legend Prince, the DJ, who was also an original resident at the Boom Boom Room inside of the Standard Hotel New York, set list was all things nostalgic -- but in a good way where the familiar beat induced a two-step. From Outkast’s “GhettoMusick” to Ciara’s “Crush,” she served up tasty, free-range tracks, blending styles and eras.
Thundercat Plucks Away to Kendrick Lamar
The bass virtuoso that is Thundercat is a true novelty in today’s millennial ran music scene. After releasing a new gem of a single, “Bus in These Streets,” and announcing a must-see, three-night Brainfeeder showcase in California -- featuring Flying Lotus, Funkadelic featuring George Clinton, Shabazz Palaces, and the Gaslamp Killer -- he brought the vibes to Afropunk’s Gold Stage.
Plucking away at the strings of his bass, “Them Changes” and “Complexion” from Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly were fan favorites, fusing soulful melodies and funky beats. If this is what’s to come from this upcoming showcase, we’re ready to fork over the cash in our wallets.
Cee Lo Green Rocks the Party
As the balmy heat was at a standstill over Commodore Barry Park, Cee Lo kept the crowd cool. Outfitted in a glorious kaftan number that would surely pass as special cloth alert-worthy in DJ Khaled’s book of keys, he took Afropunk’s main stage with a full band because when it comes to Mr. Green the theatrics of a performance are necessary.
“Did y’all come to party?” the Atlanta native asked the crowd, running through a series of his hits like 2004’s “I’ll Be Around (ft. Timbaland) to his more recent chart-toppers like the anthemic "F--k You" and the love crazy groove that is “Fool For You.” And while we were hoping that New York-based Melanie Fiona would pop up to serenade the crowd during the duet, Green called on his saxophonist to amplify the tenderness of the track, leaving lovers in a tight embrace and not one soul unmoved.
After teasing with vignettes of Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” and Outkast’s “Bombs Over Baghdad” stitched seamlessly throughout the breakdown of his own jams, the soul star surprised with a performance of the Pussycat Dolls breakout song “Don’t Cha,” which he not only wrote but also produced.
Flying Lotus Comes Alive on Stage
“Afropunk NY 2016 is definitely the best festival I’ve been to this year,” Flying Lotus tweeted well before his set on his very own Brainfeeder stage. The music producer, known for his sonically diverse soundscape, hypnotized the crowd with his satisfying mixture of hip-hop, electronic and jazz, all while commanding the crowd. “Do the Astral Plane” echoed throughout as festival-goers let loose and vibed out in the veil of darkness that clouded the night sky, making it feel like a Wednesday night at Los Angeles’ storied Low End Theory. Lotus’ lively screen projections were also top notch, further setting the mood of the recluse who undoubtedly comes alive on stage. One of the highlights of the night was surely his transitioning from his trapped-out remix of the Sephiroth theme from Final Fantasy VII and his flip-of ScHoolBoy Q’s “Collard Greens.” Three words: infinite fire flames. “Yep. Afropunk was amazing,” he confirmed via Twitter after taking the stage.
George Clinton Dabs, Rolls Out the Funk Hits
At the age of 75, Parliament frontman George Clinton is still all things entertaining. He might not glide across the stage with the same vigor, but his execution of the dab was perfection. On Afropunk’s Gold Stage, folks of all ages and backgrounds stood patiently waiting for his entrance as his 6:35 p.m. set time was drawn out to seven minutes past the hour. However, that didn’t seem to bother the host of individuals who came out in droves to see the extraterrestrial brother known her flying in via mothership.
Clinton, who just signed to Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label and has an album in the works, put his timeless catalog to the test with the likes of “Atomic Dog," “Knee Deep” and “Flashlight,” among others. As the dusky haze of the day turned to night, Clinton & Co. kept things grooving with “Give Up the Funk,” which ended in backyard BBQ vibes as everyone broke out into the electric slide.
Clearly, the funk icon has still got it. Or shall we shall, Clinton tore the imaginary roof off the sucker.