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afropunk staff share best live festival moments

December 19, 2019

As we approach AFROPUNK Joburg,  festival of the year that coincides perfectly with the end of a decade, we can’t help but reminisce on the special moments we’ve shared this year. In anticipation of the final iteration of AFROPUNK 2019 being held in Johannesburg this New Years weekend, we asked some of our staff what their best festival moments of the year have been. Here’s what they had to say!

Matthew Morgan: CEO of AFROPUNK
AFROPUNK Paris: Burna Boy
AFROPUNK Brooklyn: All of the Sunday Red Stage performances (Goldlink, HO99O9, Danny Brown, Tierra Whack, RudeBoyz, Papi Juice, LSDXOXO, Scarlxrd, Fire from the Gods, Chika, Soulection…)
AFROPUNK Atlanta: Leikeli47 & Fever 333
AFROPUNK Brasil:  BaianaSystem

Ho99o9 by Mel D Cole

Judene Walden: Head of Media Sales
My answer is very simple — Scarlxrd.

Dennis Manuel

Emil Wilbekin: Chief Content Officer
I have the privilege of working at each AFROPUNK Festival — I don’t get to see every performance because, well, I’m working. But here are my favorite stolen moments.

Paris: Lizzo literally rocking the stage was pure Black joy! Chilling backstage with Lenny Kravitz before Solange’s electrifying performance. No words. 

Brooklyn: I wasn’t up on Brittany Howard. But, witnessing her perform live for the first time was transformational. I sat in the pit for the entire set with my mouth agape in awe of her voice, lyrics, and command of the atmosphere. 

Atlanta: I was backstage when Leikeli47 lit up the room. Watching the crowd go wild to her intoxicating delivery was pure magic. That was only rivaled by the Fever 333’s hardcore loud as f*ck performance. Fire in the middle of a downpour. Yes, I’m grateful for these unforgettable experiences.

Chris Saunders

Monique Siaw: AFROPUNK Army Program Coordinator
Anderson .Paak in ATL! From literally walking around the crowd, to juggling, drumming and singing, to BRINGING MUSIQ SOULCHILD OUT, .Paak had the whole crowd in a groove and in their feelings!


Piotr Orlov: Senior Editor
The epic spiritual journeys espoused by Soweto’s percussion troupe BCUC (Bantu Continued Uhuru Consciousness) have been among the world’s secret musical weapons for a few years now. But as great as the group’s recordings are — and they are undeniable great — they sound like tamed lightning in comparison to seeing BCUC explode off the Black stage on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn. Imagine six people with just their voices, an electric bass guitar and mess-load of drums and percussion/rhythmic instruments bringing together an overflowing congregation to full dancing ecstasy. BCUC’s set was a single volcanic 40-minute eruption: harmonic chants barked with punk-rock energy at a breakneck pace. And those peak moments of deep fervor when Jovi Nkosi, BCUC’s relentless energetic lead singer, would take high to the skies, urging the band and the crowd to keep moving faster, find a new gear, and then land on his back, seemingly losing full control of his limbs, achieving an unprecedented euphoria…that’s the church I think of when I need to wipe 2019’s sins off my mind. 

Tyrone Bradley

Elosi Ikharo: VP of Global Marketing
BaianaSystem at AFROPUNK Brasil was one of the most magic performances that I’ve seen this year and I had no idea what was being said. The energy in the room was palpable and everyone was one voice and spirit. It was magic! AFROPUNK Bahia is going to be like nothing we’ve ever seen and I can’t fucking wait!!

Jef Delgado

Chelsea Stratton: Executive Assistant
Definitely Brittany Howard in Atlanta!

Dennis Manuel

Syron Townsend:  Content Producer – Partnership
Ho9o99 is one of those bands that you can take your friends to see, even if they claim to not really “get” hardcore music.  The absurdity, the relentless energy — there’s not a crowd they can’t win over. Something onstage is usually destroyed.  It’s literally just a mosh pit of happy brown faces screaming “WE DON’T TAKE NO SHIT FROM A MUH-FUCKAHHH!!!”

Mel D Cole

Dev Allen: Video Producer
I was psyched out by Tierra Whack saying she was out of time just minutes into her set. But low and behold, she reemerged with Alicia Keys in tow performing “Wasteland.” Tierra continued the wild out by jumping into the crowd and turning the whole festival up.

Marc Baptiste

Warren Bokwe: Global Battle of the Bands Coordinator
AFROPUNK Paris: Burna Boy
AFROPUNK Brooklyn: Death Grips
AFROPUNK Atlanta: Fever 333

Chris Saunders

Karissa Shenk-Bellamy: Marketing Assistant
Jill Scott for sure. She performed He Loves Me, #vocalsfordays

Mel D. Cole

Awa Gueye: Junior Culture Editor – Film
Seeing Solange in Paris perform her discography emotionally to an equally emotional all Black crowd and standing near Patrisse Cullors (Black Lives Matter), my sister, and my coworkers who are like family will forever be tattooed in my heart. But also Ho99o9, Fever 333 and FKA Twigs!!!!

Dennis Manuel