Written by Alex Brazeau
On a day with a stacked hip hop lineup, having to take the stage early and still remaining at the end of the night as the evening’s most memorable performance is no easy task. But if you were to ask 30-year-old Flushing, Queens, rapper Action Bronson (who got things started on the co-headlining Claridge Homes stage) he’d probably tell you it was just another Saturday afternoon for him. While there were other acts during the day who seemed to struggle with keeping your attention, Bronson’s performance was one we couldn’t take our eyes off of.
Just before things got underway, Bronson’s DJ walked out, set up his Mac, and—in true Action form—got things started with a couple of classic tunes from Billy Joel and John Mellencamp. Still touring in support of his most recent mixtape Blue Chips 2, released in late 2013 and produced entirely by Brooklyn producer-duo Party Supplies (their second full-project collaboration and follow-up to 2012’s Blue Chips), Action Bronson emerged on stage, his wet hair slicked back and sporting a seriously bushy beard, puffing on a joint.
Raising his closed fist into the air, with the spliff in his mouth, he was quick to point out that he didn’t see enough drugs in the relatively small crowd of a few hundred deep that had gathered under the hot Saturday afternoon sun. Whether he was hyping himself up, making sure he’d smoked enough of the joint he’d lit just before he calmly walked onto the stage, or just generally enjoying the classic tunes his DJ was playing (but most likely a combination of all three), the former chef turned rapper just walked around the stage for a few minutes, occasionally throwing a middle finger into the air to illicit cheers from the crowd, until he was ready to jump into his first song, “Silverado”.
As the DJ dropped the second instrumental to “Pepe Lopez”, Bronsonlino made his way out onto the speakers set up in front of the stage, stepping into the sun and offering the crowd a closer look as he performed. As it turned out, this was nothing; in fact, we’d hadn’t even seen the least of what Action Bronson had in store for those who’d showed up. By the time he moved into “The Rockers” (a track featuring Wiz Khalifa off his first major label EP, SAAAB Stories), he’d jumped down into the photographer’s trench and looked to be headed backstage before he had even started rhyming the words to his third song. But as the DJ looped the beat, and we followed Bronson from the trench to beside the stage, we watched as he walked over to a golf cart with Deltron3030 onboard and ordered the driver to get out of his seat. A little unsure of what was going on, the festival volunteer quickly hopped up and turned the cart over to the 300-pound, tattooed rapper, who hijacked the cart (still loaded with the rap group set to perform later) and decided to drive it around the festival grounds as he spit his verse over the Harry Fraud-produced beat. Make sure you check out his Instagram page (@bambambaklava) for a close-up from the crowd!
After being swamped by the mass of fans that had been following the slow moving cart, he ultimately abandoned his wheels and started to move back towards the stage. Stopping in the middle of the crowd some 20-feet from the security barrier, he continued to spit and take selfies with fans in the now wild and frenzied crowd. After what seemed like an eternity off-stage, Bronson made his way back to a VIP area, sat down for a minute in a white lawn chair, and then walked over to a Port-A-Potty, where he continued rapping “It Concerns Me” from inside—just wild (check out a video clip on EnvyMagazine Instagram).
Eventually making his way back to the stage to perform his last couple of songs, Action Bronson ended up walking off the Claridge Homes stage just as calmly as he’d walked on only 40-minutes earlier, leaving most of us to think there would be some sort of encore… but it never happened. As we moved on to catch an hour-long stand-up set from the legendary Bob Saget across the field on the Bell stage, word circulated that that stage manager had barred Bronson from getting back onstage and he’d been asked to leave the grounds. I guess now we know what it takes to keep you from performing an encore at your own show at Bluesfest—but, even if the show was a little short, it was definitely worth it.