Afropunk 2016: George Clinton, Flying Lotus, More Deliver On Day One
Day Two of Afropunk is currently underway, but Day One launched a great start to the annual Brooklyn music festival.
Thundercat performed a stripped down set with him, a keyboardist and a drummer. The trio primarily performed tracks from his stellar recent album, The Beyond / Where The Giants Roam. Renditions of “Heartbreak + Setbacks” and “Tron Song” each transformed into lengthy improvisational jam sessions. He also performed “Lone Wolf and Cub,” “Them Changes,” and Kendrick Lamar’s “Complexion” from To Pimp A Butterfly. Thundercat’s set at Afropunk is a reminder of just how virtuosic of a bass player he is: if you weren’t dancing, you were likely in awe of how effortlessly he was playing. As always, the Los Angeles musician showed what makes him such a reliable collaborator with the likes of Kendrick, Flying Lotus, Erykah Badu and other musical luminaries.
Speaking of luminaries, George Clinton showed that even at age 75, he still has the chops that made him a legend. He went through all of his hits like “Atomic Dog,” “Night of the Tumpersaurus People,” “Knee Deep,” “We Want The Funk” and “Flashlight,” leaving a crowd of 1,000-plus people singing along lyrics word for word. Clinton may not be a punk musician, but he’s as punk as it gets: he broke the rules while setting new ones, creating a sound and persona that is still influential years later.
Flying Lotus brought everything you would ask for from the electronic/jazz visionary: trippy, surreal visuals and the music to match. “You’re Dead!” – the title of his latest full-length album – flashed on a screen behind him as he had the crowd ferociously bobbing their heads. His set had one of the most bizzare DJ transitions one could ever imagine: he played a remix of the Sephiroth theme from the video game Final Fantasy 7, and flipped it into a remix of ScHoolboy Q’s “Collard Greens.” Only FlyLo could do this, and that’s what makes him the brilliant musician that he is.
Cee-Lo Green brought his A game as well. “Did y’all come to party?” he asked the crowd at the beginning of his set. The Dungeon Family rapper/singer kept the audience’s energy high by performing solo highlights like “I’ll Be Around,” the number one hit “Fuck You” and the Grammy-winning “Fool For You,” with the latter including a standout solo from his saxophonist. He also surprised attendees with a performance of The Pussycat Dolls’ “Don’tcha,” which he wrote and produced. If the crowd wasn’t ready before he hit stage, they were definitely partied out by the time he left.