By Taneen Momeni

Black Folks Don’t Swim?, a Washington-area band, brought some funk to NextNOW Fest at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center with warm walking bass lines, smooth velvet vocals and groovy beats Friday night. 

The 2-year-old band played an hour-long setlist consisting of original songs, as well as covers of songs by Erykah Badu and Ella Mai. 

Although the concert was in an open space where there was a lot of through traffic, the performers created a fun stage presence by engaging the audience and asking them to come closer, shake and loosen up and clap along with the beat. 

Bassist Clarissa Corey-Bey, a UMD alum, related to the audience by giving anecdotes about their time here and making jokes that any Terrapin could relate to.

“Y’all must be engineering majors,” Corey-Bey said, when no one would match the band’s energy by clapping along with them.

Band members’ high energy and interactions with each other created an exciting environment that made every audience member want to partake in the fun, as they danced with one another, made jokes and hyped each other up during solos. 

The band’s funky and distinct sound was amplified with emphasis they put on solo performances  from each musician and the other experimental effects they included — like hitting the guitar so a whirring sound would crescendo and fill the venue. 

After playing the song based off their band name, the lead singer, Kailasa Aqeel, made references to it and got the audience involved. 

“Who don’t swim?” Aqeel asked. Some of the crowd members answered with “Black folks.” “We float,” Aqeel said. 

“We honor all people, All the people who are here. All the people who came here. We make music for y’all,” said Corey-Bey. 

Featured Photo Credit: Taneen Momeni/Bloc Reporter.

Taneen Momeni is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at

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