Coachella 2015: Action Bronson, Azealia Banks go their own ways
They’re both rappers. They’re both from New York. And both of their names are initialized A.B.
That, however, is pretty much where the similarities ended Friday between Action Bronson and Azealia Banks, who performed within a couple of hours of each other on the main stage at Coachella.
Up first, beneath an afternoon sun hot enough that his safari-style hat was visibly drenched within minutes, the portly, amply bearded Bronson ran through songs from his just-released major-label debut, “Mr. Wonderful.” His rapping was strong, too, particularly in “Brand New Car” and “Actin Crazy.”
But as the title of that latter tune suggests, Bronson’s true specialty is his flair for off-kilter theatrics. Here those included his trademark excursion into the crowd, where he happily took a hit from some kid’s joint; a shout-out to George Lopez, who was standing on the side of the stage; and, perhaps most memorably, the hearty assistance he offered a cameraman who toppled to the ground while filming Bronson’s other antics.
Introducing “100 MPH,” the rapper said, “I wish I could sing like one of the Isleys,” then proceeded to demonstrate that he most certainly can’t; he offered further proof later as he warbled the sung hook of “Baby Blue.” For his big finish, Bronson chewed through his song “Easy Rider” before tossing his microphone into the crowd and wandering out of view.
A drama kid from way back -- and a proud loudmouth known for her social-media feuds (with artists including Bronson) -- Banks might’ve been expected to bring similar attention to herself at Coachella. Surprisingly, though, she kept the focus almost entirely on her music, barely addressing the audience between songs from her own recent debut, “Broke with Expensive Taste.”
Turns out she didn’t need anything else: Backed by a fierce live band (and a digital image of an undulating American flag), Banks rapped and sang with soulful intensity over complicated funk beats and warm house grooves that recalled the early-'90s work of Deee-Lite and C+C Music Factory. Whether or not she was inviting the comparison with Bronson, she seemed to be saying she’s nobody’s clown.
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