Thursday, September 20, 2012

My Afro Punk Experience

Afro Punk 2012 – Janelle Monae will now give me nightmares. Saturday afternoon I took off to New York to go to the free Afro Punk Festival in Brooklyn. I missed out on Saturday concert because I left my house too late, had gotten a bit distracted in Manhattan, and I had NO idea where Commodore Barry Park was. I had gotten lost in around the downtown area, until I asked a Jamaican guy who was sitting down with his guitar in a remote area around Fulton Street. He walked with me (I think he followed me when I was getting a soda at a near by bodega because as soon as I was out the store he shouted out for me saying that I was going in the wrong direction for the festival.) to Commodore Park where everybody was leaving, because it was over when I arrived around 9:30 pm. I met my friend Thaddeus through the crowd of people that was leaving the park. He told me how cool the concert was and how Erica Badu and a shit load of bands was playing at the Afro Punk concert. I wanted to kick my own ass for wasting so much time, and on missing out on Erica Badu, one of my favorite music artist out of this entire concert. I told Thaddeus that I wasn't going to miss Sunday concert for the world, because Gym Class Heros were suppose to play in Sunday's concert. Gym Class Heros never showed up for Sunday's concert, the bastards. Anyway, I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge that night, taking a few shots with my Holga Camera, walking around Wall Street and waiting out the night in a blue canvas chairs with the Occupy Wall Streeters in front of Trinity Church. I sat a few inches away from the police standing by their police cars that's assigned to watch the area. I only had less then 15 bucks in my pocket, and that's not enough to pay for a hostel for the night. Beside I was safe anyway because of the police protecting the area around a well lit Trinity Church. So I waited out the night. At 5 in the morning I went to McDonald's for breakfast, walked up from Wall Street all the way up to 45 street to stop at the public library to check my e-mail. The concert started at noon and it was still early for me to pass time at the one place where I can feel a bit of sanity for a while. I like dive bars, and I should have gone to one that night instead of hanging around Trinity Church, but I was too tired to go to any bar, and I didn't feel like getting up when I planted myself in that canvas chair. While walking up Mid Town there was a Palestine Parade that was about to take place at in mid town. I took a few pictures of the floats that was parked on the street and a guy dressed in a strange white garb. There were so many Palestinians that were excited about their parade and I would've been too, but I had other things on my mind. So I waited out my time at the New York Public Library until 12. I read in the paper that there was going to be a “National Breast Day” where women of all kind get to flaunt their breasts around Bryant Park for some kind of charity. I made sure I had my cameras so I can take a shit load of pictures and might as well, New York is a hell of a city. When I went to Bryant Park, nobody was flaunting or showing boobs. There were a few sun bathers lying on the grass in the middle of the park, while others looked on in their seats taking on the low 80 degree weather. So no pics and I was once again wasting my own time for the Afro Punk Fest. So I put my Holga away in my shoulder bag and headed off to the next train to Commodore Park to rock on with my day. As soon as I had gotten to the Afro Punk festival there were exotic food trucks parked on the outskirts of the festival, serving food and passing out beer and whatever drink that was being paid for. I didn't want anything because I had my morning breakfast and coffee that day. As soon as got into one of the Afro Punk tent, it wasn't that many people there. There was two sides to this festival. One side where independent bands played, over 80 different market tents were plotted up in what seem like the middle or back end of the park, while the other side was the “Red Stage” where all the big bands played, skaters were doing their skating tricks on boards in a one time skater park, and more tent merchant stores along the way as well as tents for sponsors that helped pay for the free concert; Nike and Vitamin Water were a few of the main sponsors. There was a BMX bike show that seem like it wasn't being paid much attention to, and of course swag. Free stuff galore if you know where to look. I went to the independent stage where a band that I don't know was belting out songs and playing their ass off, then went film the skate boarders at the ramp where after the boarding competition ended there was a mini rap concert at the ramp. After that show I went to the Red Stage where DJ EZ Breezy and another DJ were playing mixes and reeving up the crowd in to a frenzy. I love all of the songs that the DJ's were playing and I was at the very front of the concert. There was a guy behind me singing almost every rap song that the DJ's busted out, people in the crown pushing their way in and out, while photographers took pictures at the stage. It was crazy. The first band Bad Rabbit was doing it's thing and going by it's “rabbit” name when the lead singer jumped all over the stage as well as bouncing on to his band members. Straight Line Stitch rocked completely. There were two shows, one on stage where the lead singer was screaming her voice out and the other in the audience when fans were dancing some kind of angry/mosh dance. It was amazing. I caught some of “Stitch” act on my camera phone, even though it was running out of power. Then there was the DJ's entertaining the crowd after Straight Line Stitch played a great show. The announcer 'Melissha', the chick with the pink fluffy hair, dressed in a tight black uni tard covered with spikes, announces that Gym Class Heros wouldn't be able to make it at the show at all because one of the band members had gotten sick. That disappointed a lot of people who wanted to see GCH front man Travis. Melissha made sure to give GCH's website so the audience can complain about the whole situation. Anyway after making that announcement Melissha threw out some candy bars and towels into the crowd, made some more announcements then introduced quasi alternative music superstar Pherrell. I took a two good shots of Pherrell before my camera died out, then that was it for the rest of the concert with my camera phone (The next time I wont forget to bring my phone charger to something great as this. There are so many people who kept their camera phone out, while I had to keep mine in my pocket because it was out of juice.) for the rest of the night. After Pherrell introduced his phenom singer Janelle Monae, that's when the crowd started to get tighter. Everybody on stage was dressed down in black and white, the theme of the show was new age, space, alien from mars...something. Miss Janelle gave a snazzy performance, dancing and singing, however I feel her lead guitarist gave even more of a stunning act with his black guitar. The day is dying down to night, and I'm feeling more flesh on my flesh than I want, while taking in armpit smells and the pushing bastards around me. There was a part of the show where Janelle threw a towel into the crowd – at my direction – and I caught that stupid towel. I was thinking of selling it on Ebay...nah. Despite it all that wasn't part of the show that tripped me out and made the audience annoyed by me. It was the part when the singer had the audience crouch low to go with her act. Everybody on stage either laid down or bend low, as did people in the crowd. I tried to but couldn't. That was the part that got everybody's goat. 'Bend down' they would tell me, and I did. In fact I was using some guy's leg for support so I can keep down a bit, although I could feel my knees start to buckle, the crowd was way too close to make me claustrophobic, and I felt that I couldn't breathe. If someone in the audience had gotten up in the middle of the act to block my view, I would be pissed off too. So I got up. I told people around me that I “can't” bend down, at least not so low. The second time Janelle beckons the audience, because there were some that also stood up too, to bend low. So I made a second attempt, this time not so low. As soon as the music shot up so did the audience. Then the big finally when Janelle decide to crowd surf in my direction, where I was standing with two of her dancers. God help me. My shoulder bag fell off my arm, and the crowd was kicking it around. This time I really did bend down to pick up not only my bag from the ground, also my glasses that had fell off my face. The last thing I need were my only pair of glasses broken in two by the cause of a celebrity that I barely hear so much about. Although I found it a bit amazing when I looked up, almost getting trampled on, how cool it was watching a sea of hands up in the air, from my astigmatism point of view. Clenching the back of my glasses in my mouth, I immediately put it on as soon as I got back on my feet. Janelle Monae and her dancers were still audience surfing, this time to get back on stage. I knew I grabbed something, because when the singer passed my way, my new hat fell off my head. I was pissed, sore and I was missing my hat, at least for a couple of minutes until I could find it in front of my feet before it could be stepped on. Janelle Monae gave a great concert, and I had a lot of fun; although I was sore, annoyed and hungry like nobody' s business. That whole crowd surfing didn't give me nightmares, not much as thought, however I think it was either Karma or a devious quick plan to get back at me for not cooperating with the show. Oh well.

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