Normally when one goes to a Red Bull party in New York City, one should know better to arrive earlier than the proposed ‘opening doors’ hour. And surely, Monday night at Brooklyn’s Glasslands was no exception. At about 8:30 p.m., the multicultural crowd wrapped around the building, eager to experience the sick lineup at Red Bull Sound Select / Afropunk show. As we made our way inside the crammed entrance, Newark’s four-piece Sunny Gang was already igniting the stage with its heavy ska-punk sound and funky hip-hop verses. Vibes were welcoming as heck, especially when the band came to a close with the dance-rock song “Bloc Party,” with a doughty shout-along, “Welcome to my bloc party!” Hilariously, after Sunny Gang’s set was over, a hillbilly-esque white dude with a foot-long beard confusedly said, “I thought it was going to be more like electronica.”
Sipping on tallboy Brooklyn lagers and Red Bulls, the zealous crowd prepared to witness Austin’s trio BLXPLTN (pronounced Blaxploitation, for y’all who don’t know). Cool and melodic at the first few moments, the power trio, consisting of a frontman electro-percussionist, distorted bassist, and screaming guitarist chick quickly transitioned into a boisterous fusion of electro-crass-punk. Raw, minimal, brassy, and powerful briefly sum up the innovative punk rock sound they construct.
Bronx-futurist artist Gordon Voidwell followed with an R&B, Minneapolis-sound that brought peeps back into a late ‘80s funk with a new pop appeal. No doubt, the crowd swayed and nodded heads all along.
Following, the opening act for the headliner was the punk-rap trio White Mandingos who came politically charged with its Black empowered lyrical prowess repping “I’m too black for the underground.” Worthy to say, the band consists of a legendary bassist, formerly of Bad Brains, and together, the three-piece produced the high voltage energy with the potential to unleashed any mosh pits, anyplace.
At midnight, all eyes are glued to the stage, gazing in awe at the lean muscular figure donning a folky floral dress and a messy-bleached wig, Mykki Blanco. The lyrically gifted, cross-dressing rapper came out explosively onstage with an infectious dynamism so appropriate for a night of early spring in the East Coast. Chronicling on street wisdom, weirdness, and personal taste via song, the New York-based lyricist tore down all borders and allowed the audience to disregard what color they are, what societal roles they play, and where they came from, all for the unification of Afropunk music. “I know I’m weird, I know I’m strange, and I hate to be arrogant, but right now I’m the prettiest girl on Instagram,” slickly raps the talented rising icon, which was probably too true.