Photo: Trent Johnson

Action Bronson Lights Up SXSW

I shouldn’t have been surprised to see Action Bronson climb the stairs to Bangers’ stage with something other than a microphone in his hand. This is a guy who previously had a television show where he discussed the ridiculous claims of Ancient Aliens with his friends over copious amounts of food and weed, while it played on a giant green screen behind him.

However, the former chef is much more than a stoner rapper. That would literally be selling him short, as he’s transformed himself into a media company of his own – producing television, books and of course, music. His music sometimes seems lost in the shuffle of it all, but it’s where his journey as an entertainer began. As a huge fan, regardless of platform, I was more than a little giddy to see the Queens-bred Bronson take the stage at SXSW on March 15, and he did not disappoint in the slightest.

A rotund man, Bronson moves like a much lighter human, often racing back and forth on the stage with a tremendous amount of energy. Rapping through a bright red beard, the lyricist sounds exactly like he does over recordings – only louder and more aggressive. He never stumbles or stutters, and his voice is deafening.

This carries over to his stage presence, looming large over a crowd full of middle fingers, clenched fists and even a few people grasping F*ck, That’s Delicious books. And if you were one of the lucky few within arm’s length of Bronson, you got it signed, as he took a moment during the first couple songs to scribble some signatures.

The setlist included popular singles like “Baby Blue,” “Easy Rider” and “Let Me Breathe” off of Mr. Wonderful and Blue Chips 7000. But he also played old songs from before talk show interviews with Jimmy Fallon and his Viceland block of programming. My favorite track was “Mr. Two Face,” a song he conjured up while in Jamaica for his food show. While there, he met a wickedly talented reggae singer on the streets and brought him into the studio to record.

Unfortunately, because this is SXSW, the sets are shortened. And even though Bronson returned for an encore to raucous shouts of “Action,” it was disappointing for everyone to see him climb down the stairs and return to the alley from which he arrived.

Learn more about Action Bronson here.