Photo Credit: Benjamin Lozovsky for BFA
SZA Channels Her Inner Badchild At Villain For Cinco De Mayo [Video + Recap]
On Cinco De Mayo, Afropunk teamed with Jose Cuervo to host Cuervo No Chaser, a party and concert headlined by SZA at Villain in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Afropunk is only months away, and this week, followers of the renowned festival got a taste of what’s to come with a Cinco De Mayo celebration that featured good music, free drinks and free food. DJs Underdog, Lindsey and Kitty Cash opened the first few hours of the night, playing expertly-crafted mixes of high energy and laid back tunes while attendees danced, conversed and enjoyed tequila and tacos from Brooklyn eatery Cantina Royal.
SZA hit the stage with her band around 11:30 p.m. After opening with her Rihanna collaboration “Consideration,” she performed a string of songs from her 2014 debut Z and a rendition of Musiq Soulchild’s “Just Friends (Sunny).” While her music is relaxing chillwave, her live set is much more diverse: by the time she ended her set with Z single “Babylon,” she had brought emotional highs and lows while seductively dancing through songs and showcasing the range of her deceptively powerful voice.
The performance was worth the trip for Crystal Kayiza, who went to AP for the first time last year but missed SZA’s set by ten minutes. She gushed over SZA’s voice, the clarity of her lyrics on stage, and how she brought a vibe that was different from her songs’ studio versions.
“There was a lot more energy live. Things I considered to be mellow and slow-paced on the album, her performance was a lot more upbeat than actually listening to the tracks themselves,” Kayiza said. “I think that has to do with energy of the crowd. Like any performer, you’re going to have more energy when the crowd is into it. But she moves really well, she understood her music, and it was really dope.”
Brent Kelsick agreed. “She worked the crowd. She got the crowd into it. Just subtle, little things — nothing too much, but enough to get you into it, enticed and bumping,” he said. “I’m on a high right now, I’m going to sleep good tonight.”
DJ MoMa closed out the show, spinning a mix of dance-ready tunes until the concert ended at 1 a.m. Early attendees took home t-shirts and stickers, which were in a limited number of gift boxes that laid in the back of a car.
Thursday’s show was one of multiple shows put on by Afropunk throughout the year before the long-running festival returns to Brooklyn on Aug. 27 and 28. This year’s festival is highlighted by performances by Ice Cube, TV On The Radio, Flying Lotus, Tyler The Creator, Janelle Monae, The Internet and Power Jam.
The event also showcased a broad collection of black folk from different backgrounds, all of them passionate about music and culture. As Kaziya put it: “Really good vibes, no hate, people came to enjoy themselves and chill and kick it without the fakeness...it’s a freeing experience.”