we hosted a stage at afropunk this weekend and it was awesome
NO SEXISM, NO RACISM, NO ABLEISM, NO AGEISM, NO HOMOPHOBIA, NO FATPHOBIA, NO TRANSPHOBIA, NO HATEFULNESS. This is the gospel, according to AFROPUNK.
This weekend saw the festival, which began back in 2005 as a free celebration of black punk bands in Brooklyn, expand its colourful horizons to London. Having already popped up in Atlanta and Paris in recent years, as well as its Brooklyn mother venue, the message is spreading, and with it, love and acceptance.
The impressive Alexandra Palace welcomed an attractive crowd this Saturday 24 September, as the festival set up shop - literally, with an array of market stalls showcasing handmade items and introducing worthy campaigns - with their NO HATE main stage, one hosted by Soulection, an NTS bar, and last but by no means least, the i-D stage. The atmosphere on the day was welcoming, and the championing of diversity was clear and powerful.
On the i-D stage, Birmingham punk rock band Youth Man commanded attention with their talented front woman, followed by Cakes Da Killa (plus dancers) whose recent Peaches collab Up Out My Face had us moving involuntarily, brought the fun. Gaika's industrial call to prayer left people questioning everything they thought they knew about music before the Brixton artist brought out his buddy Kojey Radical to join him.
Meanwhile, Lady Leshurr delivered quite the Queen's Speech, SZA energised the crowd over on the Soulection stage, and last year's Mercury Prize winners Young Fathers brought the main stage to life. Back to i-D HQ and it was the turn of the incredible Ho99o9. Eaddy took to the stage in a suit, eventually losing the jacket and tie, while The OGM joined us crouching in a monster mask. Their electric set climaxed in a circle pit surrounding Eaddy, which certainly felt in the spirit of punk.
Next up, it was over to the NO HATE stage to see headliner and iconic model, artist and activist Grace Jones slay as the crowd stood transfixed. Wearing at first a cape, metal mask and not much else, her body was painted in tribute to her Keith Haring collaboration shot in '84 by Robert Mapplethorpe. "Are you wild? Get wild!" she shouted, before launching into a set full of wonder, incredible costume changes (silver horse tails, tulle skirts, giant headdresses) and great chat. "I'm doing everything my mother wished she could've done... I think." The 68-year-old took a turn at pole dancing before handing over duties to a male dancer and treating us to a breathtaking rendition of Amazing Grace. After pulling up to the bumper, the night was ended on a high with Slave To the Rhythm, accompanied by her legendary hula-hooping. What a woman. Long live AFROPUNK.
Photography Alia Wilhelm