AFROPUNK's annual Battle of the Bands competition is officially underway. From June 24-27, 17 bands are battling it out at the Brooklyn art gallery FreeCandy. One lucky band from each night gets a chance to compete at the finals on July 10, with the final winner being awarded a slot at this summer's AFROPUNK Festival! The first two nights of preliminaries were filled with promising, up and coming bands.
Hosted by rapper / producer Jean Grae, opening night started off with some extreme energy. After an epic tiebreaker between two bands, Lonely Horse were the first winners, but the night was filled with awesome new music across the board.
Tribe NYC at AFROPUNK Battle of the Bands 6.24.2014
Brooklyn-based hip hop group Tribe NYC hit the stage with each member sporting different versions of a '90s-style hightop fade. In accordance with their retro street style, each member of the the group delivered some old school bars. Their sound was heavily influenced by late '80s / early '90s hip hop with a touch of new school flow. Their songs featured samples from Notorious B.I.G. tracks and even a tribute to the late Capital STEEZ of Pro Era. Some members were also pretty dope dancers. Before closing out their set by throwing couple Monopoly dollars into the crowd, the audience was treated to a full on break dancing session from one of the group's hype-men.
Lonely Horse at AFROPUNK Battle of the Bands 6.24.2014
Next up was San Antonio-based rock band Lonely Horse. Despite some technical difficulties early on -- an obtrusive photographer accidentally unplugged the lead singer's guitar, causing them to start the song over -- they put on one hell of a show. The band's frontman showed off some impressive guitar skills as he strummed out an awesome bluesy rift. This talented duo was previously featured as a winner of Zumic's ReverbNation Contest. So, it is no surprise that Lonely Horse won this round of Battle of the Bands.
Kings of the Tribe at AFROPUNK Battle of the Bands 6.24.2014
A unique hip hop group from New York City was next to take the stage. As each member of Kings of the Tribe took his turn at the mic, they all passionately delivered line after line. The performance was full of fun energy as group members tossed balloon animals, beach balls, confetti, and silly string into the crowd. It's always refreshing to see fresh faces step up and prove themselves. These young men put in a lot of effort and were certainly met with great support from the audience.
Indigo Monet at AFROPUNK Battle of the Bands 6.24.2014
The only lady (and solo artist) of the night closed out the show. Hailing from Long Island, New York, Indigo Monet delivered the total package. Complete with shirtless backup dancers and awesome choreography, this "new school chick with an old school flow" shut down the house. Clad in a hand-crafted African-print skirt (which she ditched halfway through the performance to reveal a pair of sparkly shorts), Indigo proved to be a triple threat as she sang, danced, and even rapped on stage. This diverse performance was easily one of my favorites.
Day 2 was hosted by the eccentric duo, Gitoo and Misfit Marti. Chicago-based band Sidewalk Chalk were the lucky ones who advanced to the next round, but every other band was definitely worth checking out, too.
Sidewalk Chalk at AFROPUNK Battle of the Bands 6.25.2014
All the way from Chicago, Illinois, Sidewalk Chalk was the first act of the second night. This funky band definitely surprised the crowd as they opened their first song with some jazzy blows from a trumpet and a trombone. Sidewalk Chalk presented a great blend of hip hop, jazz, funk, and soul. It was probably this diverse, unexpected sound that landed them a spot in next month's final round.
Johnny Popcorn at AFROPUNK Battle of the Bands 6.25.2014
The next band to take the stage was Johnny Popcorn. This Philadelphia-based band rocked a unique, vintage '50s style. Their sound, however, had modern traces of pop and soul mixed with a little rock. The high energy performance was matched by theatrical lead vocalist, Hezekiah Davis' funky, Andre 3000-like dance moves. Davis also crooned along with the more modest Marjani Clark, who delivered some great high notes.
/_\drian Daniel at AFROPUNK Battle of the Bands 6.25.2014
/_\drian Daniel of Brooklyn, NY was accompanied by his bandmates, known as The Stoners. This band offered up an eclectic mix of R&B, synth pop, and soul. Adrian played the role of lead vocalist and crooned into the mic, hitting some awesome high notes both with and without an auto-tuned mic. The Stoners also featured a female vocalist who acted as backup, though halfway through the first song, she surprisingly delivered some dope bars. This awesome performance ended with the band's drummer jumping into the audience for a good old crowd-surfing session.
Throw Vision at AFROPUNK Battle of the Bands 6.25.2014
Brooklyn-based band Throw Vision was the last performance of the night. Starting things off with some dreamy, experimental sounds, Throw Vision "took the crowd on a journey." The band's lead vocalist effortlessly ranged from a falsetto to a soulful low pitch. They accurately describe themselves as "a collective of many instruments and few people," as the keyboardist switched from the synth sounds of her keyboard to an electric guitar halfway through the performance. Complete with their own neon sign, this funky electric band closed out the show very well.
You can still check out other up and coming bands performing this week at FreeCandy. Tickets are available at AFROPUNK's official website.
Keep up with Tribe NYC, Lonely Horse, Kings of the Tribe, Indigo Monet, Sidewalk Chalk, Johnny Popcorn, /_\drian Daniel, and Throw Vision at their respective Facebook pages. Stayed tuned right here at Zumic to see who else makes it to the finals and who will be performing at this year's AFROPUNK festival.