Punk Black To-Go: May's music recommendations from Von Phoenix

von phoenix punk black
Von Phoenix of "Punk Black" talks about some of his favorite artists of color. (Photo by Aki Ikejiri)

On Punk Black To-Go, “City Lights” music contributor Von Phoenix brings us highlights from artists of color performing in various music and art arenas — many of which break stereotypes and expectations. In addition, Von Phoenix honors the seventh anniversary of the Punk Black collective. Phoenix’s mission with Punk Black is to create a radically inclusive space for BIPOC artists, musicians and cosplayers, expanding the vocabulary of what it means to live in the punk world. This month’s edition serves up a selection of today’s can’t-miss radical creators on the edge of the BIPOC scene. 

This month’s highlights:

Happy seventh birthday to Punk Black! — “I cannot believe it. We started in 2015, just doing a series of house parties in Atlanta. The first Punk Black we started, we actually didn’t even intend to keep doing Punk Black. We didn’t think about doing festivals. We didn’t think about branching off the social media, becoming a media network or being on NPR,” Phoenix says. “Our band at the time was actually trying to garner votes for Afropunk. So we just said, ‘Hey, we’ll just throw a show. It’d be dope if we had all POC bands…’ but when we threw the show, we realized that we had been the thing we were looking for the entire time.” Keep up with the anniversary celebration on Punk Black’s Instagram, @punk.black

The RACK – “This Atlanta band might as well be a local super-band,” says Phoenix. The Rack features members and contributors from previous Punk Black To-Go alums Sixteen Bullets as well as Swallowed by the Tide, Ghosthead and even Von Phoenix’s own band Howling Star. “All of them are powerhouses on their own. So when they come together, they have such a really, really good warm and original sound,” he says. The featured track “Spinning” centers on a powerful vocal performance by lead singer Awleen and crunchy, lunging electric guitar with soaring octaves. Follow The RACK on Instagram at @therackbandofficial

Rough Francis – A long-acclaimed act from the annals of Black “punk glory,” hailing from Burlington, Vermont, Rough Francis comprises three brothers, Bobby, Julian and Urian Hackney. Their father, Bobby Hackney Sr., founded 1970s Detroit rock band Death with his own two brothers. According to Phoenix, the family legacy for confrontational rock music holds strong, with “very driving sounds, very dope aesthetic,” according to Phoenix. “Honestly, they really get my day going. They’re a really good band to listen to in the morning and get you pumped up.” The featured track “Teen Zombies” spreads an expansive wall of ambiguous, ominous guitar chords underneath impassioned, chanting-style vocals. Rough Francis is on Instagram at @roughfrancis

Chiiirp – Multi-disciplinary creators, the members of Chiiirp provide not just music but handmade clothes, jewelry and tarot readings. To Von Phoenix, their music is a “bridge.” “It represents a bridge between the rap/trap community and the rock metal community, which is a really powerful bridge,” he says, with assurance that Chiiirp will lead a resurgence of love for hard rock music in the Black community. The featured song “Detroit Hardcore” is a ferocious ride through blast beats and unapologetic rap lyrics, erupting in a primal scream. They’re on Instagram at @chiiirp.  

Phoenix’s segment Punk Black To-Go can be heard monthly on “City Lights,” and more about the Atlanta-based media collective Punk Black can be found here.