This Saturday, Cypher League (in collaboration with Zuri Marley, Apostrophe and Arts East NY) hosted the first ever Brooklyn Renaissance Festival. The free, all-ages festival was held in a 20,000 square-foot lot on the corner of Pitkin Avenue and Berrimon Street, a quiet and serene stretch of East New York, and featured eight visual artists, nearly 20 musicians and performers, in addition to free beef patties and complementary Vitamin Water products. Sets alternated between live performances from local and visiting talents and vinyl DJ sets of boisterous dub reggae. The crowd stayed small and intimate, made up of long-time Cypher League attendees, artists along with their friends and family and curious locals from the next block over.
The festival organizers strived for the event to be family-friendly, and they mostly succeeded in their goal. Preteens, toddlers and a surprising number of small babies were among the festival’s general crowd. Performers were asked to “tone down the swearing” before their sets, which meant to some acts total and complete censoring (namely the teenaged rapper HD, who censored his densely arranged verses for a live audience for the first time) and to other acts the self-actualized liberty to do whatever they damn well pleased. One of the festival’s most lyrically scandalous and crowd-engaging sets was performed by the sole female rapper on the day’s bill, L.atasha A.lcindor. She was as dynamic, aggressive and intimidating (if not more so) than her preceding and subsequent male counterparts.
Festival highlights came from Dom O Briggs (whose antics and whims recalled a young(er) Earl Sweatshirt), the Illuzion (which enticed a group of thirty or so onlookers to bounce a few feet into the air with each seismic upbeat on the backing track) and Gabriel Garzon-Montano, the frontman-drummer duo arrangement perfectly situated for the wide-open space. By and large, the sets at Brooklyn Renaissance Festival were abbreviated and rapid, with barely a few minutes separating several of the afternoon’s sets. But it was never enough to disrupt the festival’s genuinely pervasive vibe: absolutely chill.
Photos by Angel Eugenio Fraden.