BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene
Last year’s Afropunk festival – the first in the city since the scheduled 2015 debut was rained out before it began – drew 4,000 people to 787 Windsor.
The festival returns to the site in Mechanicsville on Saturday and Sunday with an expected crowd of 7,000, larger than was ever planned.
But, with a lineup topped by Solange, Miguel, Willow Smith, Danny Brown, Flatbush Zombies, Denzel Curry, Tricky and many more, Afropunk founder Matthew Morgan believed it was time to increase capacity.
One small change this year: a stage will be erected outside for the headliners, which provides more space for a bigger light and sound production.
“There will be amazing acts, beautiful people, exceptional style, and a peaceful environment. It renews our faith in one another in every city and I don’t expect Atlanta to be any different,” Morgan said.
Here are three things to know about the fest, which started in Brooklyn in 2005 and has a few outposts around the world, including London and Johannesburg, South Africa, according to Morgan.
What is the “Carnival of Consciousness”?
“It is our festival that we created specifically for Atlanta and it will move, but it’s different to what we do around the world. It’s a carnival in the sense of food, music, culture. The consciousness part is how we weave in our solution sessions, our talks, which most people would attribute to conferences. We don’t want to call it a conference and we feel that our audience is one and the same. Our politics, our lifestyles, our culture are interwoven. In that sense, we’re separating the consciousness part from the music. People who don’t know about the festival who think it’s beautiful people dressed up in beautiful clothing and a celebration of black style, it is all of that. But it’s also consciousness.”
How Afropunk continues to differentiate itself from other festivals:
“It’s our community. It’s a community of color that is traditionally ignored from this type of outdoor celebration. I don’t think that will ever go away. It will only get stronger and stronger with economics and an understanding…It’s not a one-sided street. It’s important that our audience celebrate the artist that are created by the community, and I see that getting stronger and stronger.”
What are you looking for when you start to cull the lineup?
“It starts with stuff that I’m really into and what the audience wants to see or should see. As a culture, we’re great at re-creating; the younger audience doesn’t revere some of our foundational acts and it’s important to weave things in to show context. Solange had such a profound record, so whenever we can collaborate with her, we will. It’s also important for us to put acts we celebrate in front of our audience at an affordable price so they can participate in these kinds of experiences. The festival experience as a whole isn’t one that really represents people of color. (Our cost) is half of what it what it would cost to go to other festivals.”
Saturday and Sunday. 1 p.m-11 p.m. $90 (two-day general admission). 787 Windsor St., Mechanicsville. www.afropunkfest.com.