Last weekend the Brooklyn Funk Fest at the Paper Box lit up Bushwick. The festival, which may have slipped under the radar of some music lovers in the ‘hood, feautured legendary headliner Afrika Bambaataa, and tons of amazing smaller acts alike. I checked out out Thursday night line-up and was blown away by the sheer variety of the performers. The night began with PitchBlak Brass Band, followed by funk-hip-hop crew SophistaFunk, and ending brilliantly with Afro-rock Bajah + The Dry Eye Crew.
The PitchBlak Brass Band isn’t a typical NYC-based Brass band. The funky 10-piece crew is fresh on the scene, and is a amalgamation of big personalities- or as they self-proclaim, a crew of “composers, producers, artists, rappers, strivers, hustlers, and superstars”. Their multi-faceted talents certainly shined through during their set, mashing up sounds from many generes- rap, rock and hip-hop- in their slick, saxaphone-heavy jazz rhythms. Their music is definitely sexy, and defintely a strong sound of young, innovative, genre-bending collaboration. They are a helluva lot of fun. Check out their website to keep up-to-date with their shows- they play next tonight (12/5) at Audre Lorde Project Fundraiser in Manhattan.
Next was SOPHISTAFUNK, the almost cult-status trio from Syracruse. These guys, with popping basslines, screaming keyboards, and intelligent rhythmic rapping, had everyone on their feet dancing. They were a blast to see live not only because of the quality of their unique, progressive hip-hop/funk sound, but also because they are a joy to watch perform. They’re on a cross-country tour, so who knows when they’ll be back in NYC, but groove to their jams on their bandcamp!
I headed home before the headliner of the night, Zozo AfroBeat went on, but Bajah + The Dry Eye Crew left me full-hearted for the rest of the weekend. This trio, originally from Sierra Leone, joined by full-band Brooklyn counterparts, enlivened the Paperbox with their jangly, energetic, Afro-Reggae Rock sound. Bajah, AKlazz, and Dovy sing, rap, and harmonize atop dancehall tropic beats, singing about Africa, love, and life. The band has quite a following in their native Sierra Leone, and have collaborated with big-name artists in NY from Talib Kweli to ?uestlove. Filling the room with their vibrant sound and breaking it down onstage, Bajah + The Dry Eye Crew simply exuded musical joy.