Kyp Malone and I shared an “Afro-punk moment” a few years ago. We were at Bimbo’s 365 Club in San Francisco where Kyp’s band, TV on the Radio, had opened for The Faint. The show was just letting out when I ran into the furry, bespectacled guitarist and co-vocalist milling about in the lobby of the venue. I struck up a conversation, letting him know I’d caught the previous night’s show of the same bill at The Grand Regency Ballroom. We’d been talking for some time when a young white indie kid broke away from the pack of even more young white indie kids that passed by and approached Kyp and me, smiling that “OMG” smile. “You guys were great tonight” she beamed, at first addressing me. There was this split second of confusion when I didn’t know how to respond since, you know, I was holding it down in the audience that night. I kind of chuckled and motioned towards Kyp, remarking that he was the guy she wanted to thank. Kyp, being mischievous, motioned right back at me, letting her know that I was the guy to thank. We let it hang for one beat before letting the embarrassed girl off the hook. Kyp thanked her for the compliment, his genuine smile defusing the girl’s embarrassment. After she dove back into the throng, Kyp turned to me and said, “That happens all the time...whenever I’m standing with any other black dude.” We laughed.
Taking the diplomatic route, I guess I couldn’t really blame the girl for thinking I was a member of the band, except I don’t bear that much of a resemblance to any of the guys in TVOTR. Sure, we share some African ancestry, taste in eyewear and facial hair grooming concepts. But we don’t really look alike. Do we? Regardless, amongst all of the people that were at Bimbo’s that night, Kyp and I stuck out, even though only one of us was on stage under spotlights.