Action Bronson, the chef-turned-rapper from New York City, brought his White Bronco tour to Vancouver on Wednesday night.
The crowd was bursting with anticipation as the walls of the Harbour Events Centre reverberated with what sounded like the soundtrack of an epic Western. Finally Bronson sauntered onto the stage, grinning as if acknowledging his theatrical entrance before launching into Dr. Kimble, the opening track of White Bronco. “I headbutt, bitch, I don’t shake hands,” he rapped, smirking as he fist bumped with everyone in the front row.
Bronson sang almost every song on his new album, marking the beginning (and middle, and end) of each track with the same horse whinny sound effect, the official sound of White Bronco. The crowd went especially wild during Irishman Freestyle, its funky beat and absurd lyrics (“I’m butt naked with the Uzi on Broadway/My haircut is like Dominican folk art”) reminiscent of the rapper’s older work.
The fans were in for a treat when Bronson’s opening act and long-time collaborator, Mayhem Lauren, jumped back onstage for Brutal, his feature song on White Bronco. Bronson seemed almost more comfortable sharing the stage, bopping along as Lauren delivered his verses before locking his friend in a bear hug.
Bronson showed his camaraderie again during his tribute to the late rapper, Mac Miller. “Put your hands in the air for Mac Miller,” he asked the crowd, and then, “Don’t fucking do drugs,” as he proceeded to mouth Miller’s verses from their song Red Dot Music. He circled his head with his finger as Miller eerily rapped,“Think I can see a fucking halo/About to meet my maker/Brought a double cup of Drano.”
Bronson alluded to a higher power throughout the show, pausing for extended periods of time under the spotlight with his arms stretched out above him. After one such occasion, the rapper suddenly broke the spell with a snappy verse from his song Shiraz, “Light Caesar, heavy bearded like I’m Jesus.” While Bronson definitely isn’t the only rapper in the game to refer to himself as a holy figure, his reference was much more tongue-in-cheek.
While the laid-back rapper didn’t make a point of addressing the crowd (there was never any ‘thank you, Vancouver!), he did take a moment to hand out a few signed copies of his new marijuana cookbook, Stoned Beyond Belief, telling us “I gotchu.” Despite performing on a cold night in rainy Vancouver, Bronson crooned about warmer days while sipping from bottles of Fiji water. “Feels like summertime,” the rapper, who notoriously always wears shorts, told the crowd, “I want to see you all do your best Jamaican dance moves.”
Another highlight of the night was when Bronson performed his hit, Baby Blue, featuring Chance the Rapper. The intro to the song looped a few times, letting the audience know what was coming. As Bronson rapped what is sure to be one of his smoothest songs, the whole room sang along to every word.
Bronson’s epic entrance must have been to compensate for his abrupt exit, as he left the stage without so much as a goodbye. The crowd lingered for a while, hoping he would come back, but no such luck. However, if we learned one thing about Bronson that night, it was that he performs on his own terms, remaining unapologetically himself. Even though we didn’t get an encore, theres no doubt that the easy going rapper had the crowd exactly where he wanted them.