Thursday night marks the beginning of the music portion of this year’s Northside Music Festival, and as I mentioned in my Northside Festival Preview, the music portion of the festival features 400 bands and artists performing at 30 stages across North Brooklyn. Personally, there are several acts I’m looking forward to catching and covering – in particular, i’m looking forward to catching Femi Kuti, the eldest son of the legendary godfather of Afrobeat, Fela Kuti, and Femi’s backing band, Positive Force at Brooklyn Bowl tonight. Live, Femi’s set channels the feel and spirit of his father, as his set are ebulliently joyful, featuring a huge backing band, beautiful dancers/backing vocalists but at its core is music with pointed sociopolitical message detailing the evils of colonialism, corruption, poverty, geopolitik and how they’ve affected not just the people in their homeland of Nigeria, but across Africa. 

Fearlessly telling truth to power, even at times when other people would have feared for their lives or the lives of their families, the Kutis are admired, beloved and championed in Nigeria, in almost the same fashion that Bob Marley is in Jamaica; in other words, the Kutis like Marley are seen as the very best representation of the hopes, desires and strengths of their respective homelands. I can still hear the Nigerians during a set at Irving Plaza several years ago proudly referring to Femi as “Professor” and remarking on how much he was like and not like his father. 

In honor of Femi Kuti and Positive Force’s Northside Festival set at Brooklyn Bowl tonight, check out this live footage of Femi at Summerstage back in 2013. In one sequence, early in the set, I think you might see me in the photo pit as I took photos and wrote about that show – which you can check out here:  What makes this particular set interesting is that it features a special guest appearance by an renowned artist, who later became a Oscar winner but no matter what it’s danceable, fun music with such a powerful message that it should make you want to go out there and change the world for the betterment of all.