Action Bronson X Action Bronson: 2 High 2 Die in Calgary [Review]
Calgary, AB – On Sept. 10, the co-headlined Action Bronson and Danny Brown 2 High 2 Die Tour made its first Canadian stop in Calgary at Commonwealth Bar & Stage. Unfortunately, Danny Brown was denied entry into the country and didn’t make it to the stage. But Action Bronson stepped up to the plate (because that’s what he does), and devoured the night. He took on the show alone. No opening acts (except for the local DJ). No backing support (except his touring DJ). Just the big loveable Baklava, himself.
Though the show initially sold out, Danny’s absence had the Bruiser crowd up-in-arms and demanding refunds. But the diehard Action mongers quickly snatched up the refunded tickets.
By 11 p.m., Bronson’s fans (aka: every single college-aged male hip-hop fan, and then some) had packed into the venue. At 11:30 p.m., Action emerged from backstage. He’d spent his day penning verses on his iPhone and giving fans a “rare peek into the mind of” Action Bronson (at least, that’s what he told the Twitterverse). Several heartfelt literary gems came to fruition out of this: “Wahoo tacos/Kapaueta/Metal turkey wing” and “Layin’ erect in first class/Drugs make me walk funny.”
Action plodded on to the stage in a massive kaftan. It was actually just a large teal shirt. But he rocked it. Though Bronson’s big-booty body usually gets all of the attention, it’s important to note that his taste in sneakers is impeccable. He had on a gorgeous pair of royal blue Nike kicks (with neon orange laces to match his luscious mane of orange locks). Despite Bronson’s best efforts to come across as a slob, he cleans up well. His hair was neatly coifed—it must have recently been groomed. Apparently Action Bronson does partake in personal hygiene regimes, from time-to-time.
After uttering some explicits at the border patrol (it was a less-formal homage to Danny’s absence), things got underway. Some fans came hoping to hear the Saaab Stories album in its entirety. But Bronson switched things up. He performed all of his hits, including his 2010 single, “Shiraz.” The lights dimmed to a green hue. And it was perfectly appropriate. Within the first five minutes of Bronson’s stage entrance, the entire Commonwealth was hot-boxed with a smokey haze of herb.
Action Bronson is one of the most courteous marijuana smokers around. While the sacrificial fan offering of marijuana to rappers is a hip-hop show tradition, Bronson was genteel. At one point, he even knelt down to place a borrowed blunt back into its rightful owner’s mouth. Danny Brown should get a schooling from Action on the art of getting into Canada. Bronson’s babyface is so disarming. He could probably convince border patrol to smoke a blunt (or two) with him before entering the country. And the patrol would happily oblige.
Bronson also performed his Saaab material, including bangers like “Strictly 4 My Jeeps” and “Alligator.” There’s something truly beautiful about that hook in “Alligator: “I’m about to buy an alligator for my birthday/ My girl asking me, “Where you been?”/ Don’t worry/She said, “Baby I crashed the Benz”/ Don’t worry.” It’s lyrics like those that serve as the foundation for impulsive decisions, Benz-crashing, illegal animal importing, and making the Commonwealth Bar & Stage shake.
Bronson is known for his body slams. When fans venture on to the stage without his consent, Bronson flattens them. But the Calgary crowd stayed tame. Bronson’s 300-plus pounds of junk in the trunk seemed to be enough of a deterrent to keep people from going in on his turf. But Action did pull one fan from the audience to come dance on stage with him. Poor girl. She seemed a little out of sorts. She timidly stroked his massive shoulder for a few minutes, seemingly contemplating a sexy dance. But she gave up all hopes of grinding, and put her arm around Action. Yes, she friend-zoned him. And he didn’t seem to mind at all. He flashed the audience a thumbs-up, with a giddy grin on his face. It was all good times, and kumbaya.
The climax of the night came when Bronson returned for his grand finale encore. Just kidding. He only performed one verse. It was the ultimate anti-climax. It was only 12:15 p.m., and the night had only just kicked off. Action built up the entire night with bangers and Calgary was hoping he’d take them to the next level. It didn’t happen.
When Bronson performed in Calgary in 2012, he wound up performing from amongst the audience in a hoard of rowdy stoned Calgarians. Expectations were that Bronson would up the ante: maybe take a stage dive, or make it rain with gelato. Maybe he’d body-slam some Calgarian cowboys into pancakes and host his own Stampede Bronson breakfast, of sorts. But it didn’t happen. He finished his set by strolling over the merchandise table and stood by as his fans mobbed him for photo ops. Atttendees snapped up photos as Action just stood there—high off his rocker and smiling like a big cuddly Bronson bear.
Review and photography by Sarah Sussman for HipHopCanada