The excitement around Afropunk often revolves around the chance to see huge Black headliners and a stacked undercard of new and lesser-known artists all in the same, intimate venue, and this year was no exception.
And after years of being held in Fort Greene’s Commodore Barry State Park, Brooklyn’s annual Afropunk Festival found itself partying in a new venue this weekend, as thousands of Brooklynites gathered to celebrate Black music, culture, food, and art. This year’s venue, the waterfront Greenpoint Terminal Market, was transformed seemingly overnight into a sprawling, carnival-style mecca of food, music, art, and community, deemed by the festival organizers the “Afropunk Circus of Soul.”
More than 30 singer-songwriters, bands, and DJs carried the crowd through the weekend, creating community in a space that was very much made for us. In celebration of hip hop’s 50th anniversary, the festival paid homage to the ever-important genre with headliners Vince Staples, Teyana Taylor (and her daughter Junie), Joey Bada$$, and Tobe Nwigwe, and the undercard was sure to spotlight a plethora of remarkable up-and-coming alternative talent.
From singer-songwriter Cleo Reed’s glorious Afropunk debut that fully embraced the theme— they dubbed themselves and their ensemble the “Black American Circus”— to Sudan Archives’ fierce rendition of an Irish Jig on her violin, there was no shortage of moments that transported us home, back in time, or simply to somewhere blissful, feeling like the perfect balm for our sun-soaked, tired souls. It was exactly the type of talent Afropunk was created to showcase, each artist whipping the crowd into admiration with their own brand of soulful art.
It’s no wonder that Afropunk has become synonymous with Brooklyn’s music and arts culture, and despite having to adapt to an entirely new location, the “Circus of Soul” did not miss a beat, proving that Black people will always show up and celebrate, no matter the location.