The building wasn't full, but it certainly wasn't empty either when Action Bronson stepped onto stage. The crowd was a little cold. Clouds of ganja smoke floated across the room. Everyone was a little subdued. When Bronsolino started rhyming, there was that requisite anticipatory energy, and it picked up briefly, but it just never took hold -- not for lack of trying by Bronson. At first he gave a valiant effort, but then he got a little peeved, and it showed. But he trudged on. It's hard to be certain, but closing out at 12:45 after only forty minutes, including a reluctant encore, then storming off in a huff, it seemed a lot like he quit on his Denver fans.
See also: - Slide show: Action Bronson and fans at Cervantes - Action Bronson on how he and Alchemist wrote Rare Chandeliers underwater - Fresh local hip-hop from SP Double, Mr. Midas, SF1, Turner Jackson and Kid Hum and more
Action Bronson is a good rapper, certainly worthy of the attention he's been receiving. He just wasn't the best on this particular night. Maybe it simply wasn't his night. He tweeted after the concert, "I only ask for a couple things for a show. Wireless Mic is one of em. If that's not provided it ruins a lot of things." It retrospect it makes sense, early in the show, before "Modern Day Revelations" Bronson hopped off the stage to "make his rounds" and rap amongst the people. He did almost the whole show down there. It was a pro move; if not for that, he may have lost the audience before the audience lost him.
On record, Bronson is an appealing rapper for two main reasons: One, he has an urgency and confidence in his voice that compels you to listen to him. Two, he has the ability to paint vivid images with his lyrics. This show, he didn't have the urgency to enunciate properly; it was really hard to understand him. And he didn't have that mesmerizing confidence. The half-focused audience couldn't digest his words quickly enough and instead waited for that banger that never came, because that's really not what he does.
There were some tracks that stood out. Bronson did a rendition of "Bird on a Wire" that struck a chord. He even did Riff Raff's verse as an added bonus. He also performed "The Symbol," the lead single off of Rare Chandeliers, the mixtape he recently released with Alchemist, who, incidentally, made a guest appearance and gave the show a shot of energy, which held up for a couple of songs.
Finally, Bronson announced that he would be performing his last song, but not before instructing us dryly to look up his lyrics so we would be better prepared next time. Bronson performed the final song of his main set, "9-24-11," then walked off before he could be denied the ovation that he didn't deserve. Though the audience hadn't much responded to him all night, they were definitely nonplussed that he finished so abruptly. The incredulous crowd just stood there, not believing it could actually be over. Action did the right thing and gave us an encore, "Hookers at the Point," which he clearly didn't want to do, and the show ended. Finally, Action could rest.
Before Action Bronson performed, TiRon & Ayomari put down their set. It was a well-coordinated show and they had nifty little steps that they would do in time and had some nice back and forth going. They really hit their stride with "All My Love," but kind of tapered off after. They are the anti-Action Bronson. The two focus on hooks and theatrics, perhaps to a fault. In fact, this act could probably teach a little to Bronson and stand to learn some in return. But TiRon & Ayomari write music the ladies in mind. Nothing wrong with that, it was just a strange pairing for Action Bronson.
Turner Jackson went on before that and gave the most all-around solid performance of the night. The guy is just a natural entertainer. He's always smiling. He's always moving around. Even at the parts when the crowd was kinda lulling, he made jokes to lighten the mood. He got drumming from Big J Beats and pulled up the other half of 1984, Marky Bias, to freestyle with him. They did it right, which is not a common skill among rappers nowadays. D-Stylez also performed well. It's refreshing to see a guy with an old school style like he has. Plus he closed over the instrumental to Biggie's "Everyday Struggle." A fitting choice for the night.
Personal Bias: Even though Action Bronson could never do a Riff Raff verse the absurd, off-the-wall justice it deserves, it was still the highlight of the night for me. Raff Reezy just tickles me in all the right places.
Random Detail: Some random guy came to the front of the stage during Tiron and Ayomari and just started loudly booing. It was weird. You could tell the guys were a little shocked, but they didn't let it throw them.
By the Way: Turner Jackson constantly welcomes his audience to the "D.O.P.E. Game," which stands for Don't Oppress Positive Energy. More people needed to be in the D.O.P.E. game for this show.
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