On Tuesday night at The Warfield in San Francisco, the room got dark and The Eagles were summoned, softly at first, then blasting thoroughly into the back row. After several openers including Earl Sweatshirt who performed a solid festival-length set, we knew who was about to take the stage. As the music played, he entered slowly, taking each step with care as the stage was still dark. Then the spotlight caught up to him and illuminated his large ginger beard and heavy set frame. He bobbed his head a little, then put up his right arm in a fist, as if to welcome himself. Action Bronson was in action.

Playing through his newest album Mr. Wonderful (Atlantic Records/Vice Records, 2015) as well as earlier mixtapes Blue Chips (Fool’s Gold/Reebok Classics, 2012) and Blue Chips 2 (Vice Records, 2013), the Queens-based rapper Action Bronson performed a crowd-pleasing set interspersed with hilarious asides. His balance between songs was impeccable — any Bam Bam fan would have been both impressed and thankful for his programming skills, which will almost certainly be on display at Coachella over the next couple of weekends where he’ll be continuing his Mr. Wonderful tour.

Highlights of the program included “The Don’s Cheek,” “Strictly 4 My Jeeps,” and “Baby Blue”, which he introduced with a humorous explanation, “All day today I’ve been practicing for this moment, stroking my hair, just like this. Just stroking it.”. The most fitting encore we’ve heard in a long time was “Amadu Diablo,” off of Blue Chips 2, which ironically samples Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason” (Give me one reason to stay here, and I’ll turn my back around, which we did and he obliged).

It was clear throughout the set that Action Bronson was just out there having fun, and our enjoyment was simply a byproduct of his gung-ho approach to the live set. We came to expect that whenever he needed a break; he would come up with another funny observation or joke. At one point, he passed out small packages to the audience for a few solid minutes, after which he said only, “Alright there’s something I need to tell you — those candies are very strong. So be careful.”

But perhaps the most resonant exclamation came near the end of his set, when after finishing a song, he said, “I’ve been doing this shit since 2009. God damn I’m a quick learner.”

We can’t disagree.

 Article and Photos by Darius Kay

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