The end of summer can only mean one thing. No, not the start of the school year. It means that it’s time for YallaPunk! The multi-platform Philly festival celebrating Southwest Asian and North African (SWANA) individuals though art and culture is returning for its third year. Whereas in the past the festival served as a response to lack of representation of SWANA creators, as well as a changing and tumultuous political landscape, this year, the festival is turning its attention to nurturing the community it has built. With a stacked and varied lineup, this year’s YallaPunk promises to be a meaningful and joyful one.
Like the previous two iterations, this year’s YallaPunk celebrates SWANA individuals through music, film, comedy and more. Each night of the festival offers new and exciting opportunities to tap into the creative accomplishments of this resilient community. YallaPunk also provides non-SWANA Philidelphians with the opportunity to learn more about the the art and culture of their SWANA neighbors. Check out our rundown of what to expect at each night of the festival.
Thursday at PhilaMOCA
On Thursday, August 29th the festival will open with the screening of five films at PhilaMOCA. Each film tells a unique story in a distinctive manner. Drive, a film by DC-native Sara Gama, evokes the feelings of underaged kids trying to sneak into age-restricted shows. Nadim Hobeika’s Before We Heal is a short film that gracefully combines cross-cultural references as it explores the universal theme of relationship issues. Wisam Jafari’s Ambience is aptly moody while Sarmistha Talukdar’s Home leans into the experimental. I Say Dust by Darine Hotait weaves queer themes into its romantic plot. Thursday’s screenings start at 6:30 are all ages. Tickets start at $15.
Friday at Johnny Brenda’s
The musical portion of YallaPunk 3.0 kicks off Friday night at Johnny Brenda’s. Philly’s own Gaz and The Droopies will bring their formidable punk and psych-leaning rock respectively. Intercourse, a bombastic four-piece from Connecticut, will bring their impossibly titled Everything is Pornography When You’ve Got an Imagination to the fest. Beirut-born, Montreal-based producer duo, Wake Island rounds out the bill. The duo mixes Middle-eastern sounds with Detroit techno and 80-90s pop and rock. To top it all off, Friday night also features sets by four comedians. Between Kan Jazeera, Sharup Karim, Zubi Ahmed, and Fareeha Khan you’re bound to belly-laugh at least a dozen times. Tickets for Friday start at $15.
Saturday at Johnny Brenda’s
The music is not limited to only Friday night; Saturday’s lineup boasts five must-see sets. Erotic Thrillers are a DC three-piece whose indie-pop songs are only about love or true rage. There is absolutely no in-between, so don’t bother asking. Time Is Fire, also from DC, offer a high-energy mix of Afro-disco and Middle Eastern-inspired psychedelia. Glitter Skulls will keep the energy high with their acid and punk-inspired techno. Those of you seeking straight-up rock will be delighted to see Media Jeweler on the lineup. The California group makes guitar heavy jams that you’ll fall hard for. Syrian-Croatian-American musician Dania Hallak will bring her stew of soaring Arab melodic traditions and Western beats to the festival. Fun Fact: She is based in Philly so missing her set would be blasphemous.
Following Saturday’s shows there will be an after-party. Advance information is only available to those with weekend passes. You’re gonna want to attend every days’ events so just get the pass. You’ll thank yourself for it later.
Sunday at Crane Arts
Sunday’s events are totally different from previous days of the festival, which is part of what makes YallaPunk so unique. The day features poetry from five singular SWANA poets, as well as important panel discussions and workshop. In addition, Sunday is also your chance to check out the Experimental Noise Stage. There will be one dance and two performances on the stage over the course of the day. We don’t want to give too much away about these performances because they are truly idiosyncratic and deserve to be met with fresh eyes and ears. There will also be vendors available at Crane Arts for you to check out. The vendor line up is just as stacked as the rest of the festival: Tattoos by B for Babyface, Home Fresh Persian Food, Punk Ass Arab, and more.
Tickets and more information about YallaPunk 2019 can be found here.
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