... the other Black experience

San Francisco spins Afro-punk upside down - 11.10.09

It was another great performance night in Boulder, Colorado, but the Afro-punk crew was ready to bring the music tour to the west coast and rock out San Francisco, California.

The crew was exhausted with another morning of early flights, including headliner Saul Williams, Krak Attack, and Afro-punk production, and after only getting two hours of sleep before their flight time, they couldn't wait to crash in their San Fransisco hotel beds. After leaving the airport, we hopped into a limo bus to the hotel, checking out the beautiful San Francisco scenery along the way.

After checking into the hotel, we had a chance to meet up with 21-year-old, Amber Royal who volunteered to take us to different scenes that represented her hometown. Amber, who is originally from Oakland, California, is known on her Afro-punk scene as Ambreezy Ba and is the lead singer of an all girls "crunk and funk" band called HOTTUB. Her style, she said, "is a mixture of Jimi Hendrix streetwalker versus disco trailer trash with a big personality and big hair to match."

While driving us to Twin Peaks to overlook San Fransisco and to the legendary Golden Gate Bridge, Amber expressed that to her, music is a major healer and uniter of all people in the Oakland and San Fransisco area. "I know that it is more important than ever for us to come together as a community to educate, liberate, heal, and unite our black/brown youth and show them other outlets," Amber said. "While listening to Saul's music, I feel an electricity and power that is very inspiring, a feeling that I believe needs to be spread and shared to get our people ready for the revolution! I love the movement of Afro-Punk, I am Afro-punk," she said.

Here is Ambreezy with me and the folks from Afro-punk production at Twin Peaks.

We even got a chance to travel to Oakland to meet K-Dub, an African-American male who recently built a skate park in West Oakland's DeFremery Park because, he said, he wanted to make it possible for other African-Americans, young and old to be able to skate, perform and create art.

Here is K-Dub at his skate park

The scene at the DeFremery skate park was already buzzing by the time we reached, with kids bombing graffiti on constructed planks along with skateboarders of all ages practicing their skills. K-Dub said the city of Oakland gave him the space to start the skate park, but he raised the money to build it from the ground up all by himself. It was important for him to build the park, he said, because he remembers skating when he was younger and wondering why all of the skate parks he frequented were white dominated. "I felt like I didn't belong there, most of the time, so I tended to stay away," he said. "I knew I had to create a park for the new generation of skaters to feel welcomed."

After hanging out in the city all day, it was time to get to the bands to the venue to start the nights show at The Independent, located in the heart of San Fransisco.

Backstage, the bands were already warming up, including the five man rock band, the American Fangs. Originally from Houston, TX, the guys said the weather and girls on the west coast were more their speed.

I'm sure.

Right before their performance, lead singer, Gabe, was interviewed by blogger, Gitamba Saila-Ngita, regarding his experience with the Afro-punk tour. Gabe told Gitamba during the interview that he usually feels that his band sticks out like a soar thumb because their sound and look does not fit the typical punk rock image, but with Afro-punk it has been cool to zig and zag with their sound. "Afro-punk has been a blessing," Gabe said during his interview. "Being on the road is where we feel like we belong," he said.

After American Fangs banged out a show stopping performance, the Brooklyn band trio, Earl Greyhound, graced the stage. Ricc, Earl Greyhound's drummer, said that rock and roll has seemed really disjointed for the last several years and is happy with the turn outs to the Afro-punk shows because, he said, it really seems to be unifying people in a great way. Here is Ricc on drums, Kamara on bass and vocals, and Matt on guitar and vocals.

After their set, Earl Greyhound also had a chance to meet up with Boots Riley backstage. Boots is most recognized as being the front man for a political hip hop group based in Oakland called The Coup and came out to the Afro-punk show in full support. Here is Earl Greyhound's (from left to right) Ricc, Kamara, Matt, and Boots.

Saul Williams as Niggy Tardust and his band closed out the great night in San Fransisco with a slamming two hour performance on The Independent's stage. When asked why his sets are longer than most headlining artists, Saul said, "When I first started reading my poetry, I felt like the music industry was in a state of emergency. I wanted to spread my message of peace as often as possible. I've been doing this ever since I started," Saul said.

Saul transitioned into Niggy Tardust backstage.

And Niggy Tardust and the crowd rocking out on the floor.

San Fransisco, keep repping your Afro-punk scene! Our next stop is to Santa Barbara.

- Whitney Summer Boyd

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