The music sub-genre known as anti-folk (or antifolk) takes the earnestness of politically charged 1960s music and subverts it into something else. It is still highly debated what exactly the defining characteristics of this sub-genre are, as they vary from one artist to the next. Nonetheless, it is fairly accepted that the music tends to sound raw or experimental; it also generally mocks the seriousness and pretension of the established mainstream music scene in addition to mocking itself.
Singer-songwriter Lach started an after-hours club – the Fort – on the Lower East Side, after a booker at Folk City told him his music was "too punk". The Fort's opening coincided with the New York Folk Festival, so Lach dubbed his own event the New York Antifolk Festival. The Big Bang became The Fort house band when needed. Other players included Irving Louis Lattin, Billy Syndrome, Ross Owen and his RoarSharks, Zane Campbell, Michael America.
The original Fort was shut down in 1985 and moved from location to location, including East Village bars Sophie's and Chameleon, before winding up in the back room of the Sidewalk Café in 1993 where it has stayed to this day. The Antifolk Festival continues to be held semi-annually in the East Village (outlasting the original Folk Festival). Events have also taken place in the bandshells in Tompkins Square Park and Central Park.
A number of notable music artists spent time in the New York anti-folk scene, including Beck, Ani DiFranco, Cindy Lee Berryhill, Paleface, Regina Spektor, Kirk Kelly, Joie/Dead Blonde Girlfriend, Hamell on Trial, Diane Cluck, Jeffrey Lewis, Major Matt Mason USA, Dufus, Adam Green, Brenda Kahn, Michelle Shocked, Grey Revell, Nellie McKay, Krusty Dz, Kimya Dawson, Antsy Pants, and The Moldy Peaches.
Anti-folk-influenced acts such as the Bobby McGee's have begun to pick up regular national radio airplay and media coverag. In August 2006, Timeout Magazine called anti-folk "One of London's hottest subcultures". The first anti-folk UK compilation album, Up the Anti, was released in 2007, mastered by Mark Kramer (producer of Jeffrey Lewis, Galaxie 500, Butthole Surfers). Anti-folk has also taken off in Wales, following the rise to national (Wales) fame of Mr Duke.