Afropunk Fest Atlanta strives to blend music, conversation

afropunkfest-logoLast year was supposed to be a celebration for Afropunk Fest, its first year branching into Atlanta from Brooklyn with a diverse lineup of musical talent and plans for intelligent discourse.

But a nasty storm threatened to soak the weekend and the fest was abruptly canceled, leaving fans disappointed and the 1,000-plus who volunteered to earn a free ticket to the event without a payoff.

On Friday, Afropunk Fest, which started in Brooklyn in 2005 and also has outposts in Paris and London, will return to Atlanta for three days of music, art, panels and, on Friday night, the “Fancy Dress Ball”(attendees are urged to wear their “traditional Friday night best” while also encouraged “to get a little tribal with body and face-painting.”).

This year’s event carries the subtitle of “The Carnival of Consciousness” and it is the first to be held in any of Afropunk’s cities.

“This is the beginning of what this concept will ultimately be,” said Afropunk founder Matthew Morgan. “We don’t always want to do a 30,000 (capacity) festival. We can’t move around the country the same way. So the goal was, how do we do something smaller and more intimate? This enables us to celebrate the culture and have dialogue that is representative of the audience.”

Afropunk Atlanta will be held at 787 Windsor, in Atlanta’s Mechanicsville neighborhood. Attendance is limited to 5,000 and those who want to purchase a ticket ($35 single day, $60 weekend pass) can visit www.afropunkfest.com/atlanta/tickets/.

“We’re very conscious about who comes and how the space is for people,” Morgan said. “We’re very protective of our space. It’s a delicate balance. We wanted to make sure that ticket buyers from last year had the opportunity to attend.”

Morgan also honored the tickets for those who volunteered last year.

Tyler, the Creator.

Tyler, the Creator.

While music is a central focus of Afropunk Fest – among those performing on two indoor stages are Tyler, The Creator, SZA, Earl Sweatshirt, LetLive, Big Freedia, Gold Link and Saul Williams (“He is one of our treasures,” Morgan said) as well as DJs Florista, Sasha Marie, Mike Q and Andre Power – Morgan was more concerned with curating a lineup that jelled rather than wrangling major names.

“I was looking for a certain age group, a camaraderie between the talent, a combination (of artists) that other people are not putting together,” he said. “I wanted to do something that was young and specific and would really resonate with an audience that isn’t currently served in the same way in Atlanta.”

The festival will also reach out to attendees for an early voting drive celebration on Monday.

Morgan plans to expand Afropunk next year to South Africa and hopes to bring “The Carnival of Consciousness” to cities including Baltimore and Detroit. But he has no plans to eliminate Atlanta from the list of regular Afropunk sites.

“I absolutely love Atlanta,” he said. “It’s always been a very progressive town for black musicians and is somewhat the gateway to the South. It was very much a gut choice.”

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AFROPUNK FEST

6 p.m. Oct. 14, 1 p.m. Oct. 15 and 2 p.m. Oct. 16. 787 Windsor. $60 (weekend pass). 787 Windsor St., Atlanta. www.afropunkfest.com.


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