Last week I wrote a critical article about the Afro-Punk music festival, which opened up a dialogue about the meaning of the name. What exactly was this music festival trying to represent with its use of both “Afro,” and “Punk?” My critique of the festival was about semantics. It’s different than what “Afro-Punk” signifies, so they should call it something else. Basically, it seemed that the festival was marketed towards alternative black people – so maybe they should call it the “Alternative Black Music Festival.”
Even James Spooner, the documentarian who coined the phrase Afro-punk in his 2003 documentary, joined the dialogue in the comments thread.
“Well said. I just wish you would have mentioned that I [James Spooner] haven’t been involved in the festival in 6 years. Just sayin. [...] I have always been of the mindset that real punks are always living in the underground. Real punks dont give a fuck about bands that play at festivals because the bands they like put out 7-inch records with 1000 pressings. Real punks don’t think to complain about afropunk not being punk enough because they are putting on their own shows in a basement some where.
If you are a real punk rocker do what real punk rockers do, DO IT YOURSELF. Like I did to back in the day to start this whole thing.
Otherwise go watch the show, get a pair of free nikes and hang out with a bunch of eclectic black folks who may or may not know what Drake sounds like.”
Anyway, I went to the festival. Almost as soon as I got there, ‘Militia,’ the winged, on-stage emcee for Saturday’s performance introducted herself to the crowd. She made a point to say, and I quote, “Some people are saying that we sold out because we have corporate sponsors, but that just means we have monaaay!” It seemed like maybe I wasn’t the only person there with concerns about the degree to which the festival had sold out. Between every performance, she reminded the crowd of who these sponsors were, as if we could forget. It was like Militia was letting us know how much of a favor Afropunk was doing for the community. But what community? Considering Afro-punk was the least communal concert I had experienced in a long time. What’s the point of claiming to have a community within a “community” that doesn’t have any solidarity?  The DIY ethics that underly every alternative community and black community alike were missing. I get it, it’s free, but at what cost?
Militia, the hostess
As I wandered through the festival, I was bombarded with people wearing bright yellow shirts with stencil-like font that says AfroPunk. When, hostess Militia, started throwing the them into the crowd, I caught the first one. What I had failed to notice, was the shirt was a printed on a Nike t-shirt, and even worse, there was a nike logo following the Afro-Punk. It was really the perfect souvenier to confirm what I thought about the commodification of Afro-Punk.
I wrote the piece because ‘Afro-Punk,’ the documentary resonated with me, and I know it resonated with a lot of other people as well—I expected the festival to be the manifestation of comradery that I felt through documentary. For years, I thought that going to Afro-punk would make me feel like I was apart of something. I was extremely excited to go to the festival, however, it let me down big time. There was a serious lack of a bond between me and my fellow “Afro-punks.” That was lost in the overbearing presence of corporate sponsors, media outlets, and mythical ramblings about a “community” which clearly does not exist within the fences of this festival.
Yours truly sporting my free Nike shirt.
 
When Spooner made the documentary he was holding a mirror to a subculture, but in the time that he has not been apart of the culture of the brand, “Afro-Punk” the mirror broke, and the bits have been picked up by corporations and sold back to what used to be a community, photographed and posted on blogs all over the internet.
I’m not saying that the festival was all bad. I lost my voice from Spank Rock’s set alone and broke a sweat twerking to Roofeo’s music but I just thought I would be able to say that I went to a festival that stood for something. Being the center for black weirdos  of color and the people that like them just doesn’t seem to be enough.
As my friend Max pointed out when the festival was over, this appeared on the official Afro-punk website. It just goes to show that corporate sponsorships will always continue to cannibalize and react to anything that questions their legitimacy. So I guess the following statement is pretty much brought to you by Nike, Vitamin Water, AfroPunkMusicFestival Inc., etc. (In an effort to capture your demographic in a full and authentic way):
“Nearly 20,000 people showed EACH DAY! All for love, community and jams. No pretension or “hipsterness” that you can feel at other festivals. Your love and participation is what AFROPUNK is all about.”
...i'm basically a princess.

GOOSEBUMPS “SCARED TO SEE A DOCTOR” RECORD RELEASE SHOW AT 538 JOHNSON (FULL SETS FROM GOOSEBUMPS, AJAX, MERCENARY, LIBYANS, AND LA MISMA)

Like an episode of Jerry Springer, but with more fireworks.

FIGHT CLUB: THE BEST OF FRIDAY NIGHT THROWDOWN

Following the news of Throwdown’s return at SXSW this year with a Texas vs. NYC event, it seems only appropriate to take a look back at the history of Friday Night Throwdown, and the coverage we’ve had of it here on Superchief over the years. For the uninitiated; Friday Night Throwdown wasn’t just NYC’s best underground boxing event, it was NYC’s best underground party.

TEXAS VS. NYC: THROWDOWN RETURNS AT SXSW THIS YEAR

The organization that brought Ford models, Marines and Bloods together for New York’s best underground party is bringing their business to Austin, and bringing with them a Texas vs. NYC event…and Superchief will be covering the whole thing, from start to finish.

THIS APRIL: SUPERCHIEF GALLERY NYC PRESENTS JOHN FELIX ARNOLD III’S “EXCORRIGIA | THE SCOURGE”

From the world of UNSTOPPABLE TOMORROW, Superchief Gallery NYC returns this spring with John Felix Arnold III’s EXCORRIGIA | THE SCOURGE, an exhibition of new works in painting, drawing, mixed media, installation, and sound. The exhibition will run from April 3 through April 13, and there will be an opening reception on Thursday, April 3 from 6-10pm at CultureFix on 9 Clinton Street.

HIGH ON HUNGER: JANE CHARDIET

“High on Hunger” is Jane Chardiet’s new zine, featuring personal essay, photography and interviews with 12 artists, including some of our favorites, about their 2013 and their artistic goals in the new year, along with photographs of each licking fire. It’s good stuff, so I asked Jane about her 2013, because turnabout’s fair play and that’s how the game works.

12 O’ CLOCK BOYS (BALTIMORE STREETBIKE REALNESS)

Whatever your city is doing, what the homies out in B-More are doing is 10x as crazy. 12 O’ Clock Boys is one of the hardest movies we’ve seen in a long time, hands down, exploring a city and a culture that just doesn’t give a fuck (and featuring Baltimore himies like Schwarz on the soundtrack) the film gets more done in it’s 75 minutes than most documentaries do in twice that.

TAPE BAG #1: I HAVEN’T GOTTEN OFF MY COUCH IN DAYS.

Talking shit on random tapes cuz I wanna. Round one: Mongrel, Skinny Puppy, Madonna, Gowanus Mutant Kommandos, Temple of the Dog and MORE.

R.I.P RICKY LUANDA OF CHAIN GANG

Ricky Luanda of the experimental NYC punk band Chain Gang, one of the coolest bands ever, passed away earlier this week from esophogeal cancer. Watch 10 minutes of the bands’ rare, legendary, batshit crazy 1980′s film “MONDO MANHATTAN” right here.

ALWAYS KEEP THE CAMERA RUNNING: MAKS SUSKI’S VIDEOS OF THE NYC MUSIC SCENE

Maks Suski has been hard at work documenting live music in NYC on video for the last 4 years; we asked him to compile a list of some of his favorite videos that he’s shot, a list that includes Japanther, Action Bronson, Death Grips, Culo, Crystal Castles, Limp Wrist, Black Pus and more.

THERE IS A TINY LEG A QUARTER OF AN INCH BELOW YOUR TENTH RIB.

“Although Tiny Leg’s sound owes much of it’s inspiration to the Oakland glucose and thumbtrack scenes of the mid-nineties, and has been called by HotFridge magazine ‘a thumbcore homage to the sound of Velvet Curtis and Taco’ and ‘a slick-stale, neo-juicy, post-hipster alchemy, somewhere in between gluke-wave and puke-base’ by PeckerwoodsToday, those sentences are too journalistic and not souague enough, if one may permit my french.”

DAWN OF HUMANS, HANK WOOD & THE HAMMERHEADS, AND PHARMAKON PLAYED PS1 SATURDAY NIGHT (FULL SETS)

PUNK NOT ART NOISE NOT MUSIC ACK ACK ACK ACK

TOD SEELIE’S “BRIGHT NIGHTS” BOOK RELEASE & PHOTO SHOW AT SUPERCHIEF GALLERY AT CULTUREFIX (VIDEO)

Tod Seelie’s book release and photo show at Superchief Gallery at CultureFix was a celebration of the last 15 years of New York’s underground, for sure; but it also kept an eye on the future.

FUCKED UP CLOSED OUT 285 KENT’S LAST SHOW (FULL SET)

285 Kent finished it’s run last Sunday night; check out full video of Fucked Up’s headlining set right here.

SUPERCHIEF GALLERY AT MIAMI ART BASEL 2013: WILL SMITH CAN SUCK IT.

Superchief Gallery’s showing at Select Fair 2013 is even bigger, better and more batshit crazy than our 2012 showing was – check out photos here, and for homies in Miami, we’ll be at the Catalina Hotel all this week!

STACY KRANITZ’S SKATOPIA (50+ Photos From a Burnout’s Paradise)

Photographer Stacy Kranitz recently journeyed to Skatopia, a famed 88 acre skate park/commune in Ohio which was founded in 1995, documented in the 2010 film of the same name, and once described by writer Kevin Duffel as “a demented mess that meets halfway between an anarchistic Mad Maxian Thunderdome and a utopian skateboard society.” Goddamn if it isn’t one of the best things we’ve ever seen.