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No Country for Old (Rap) Men: Action Bronson live at The Forum, Melbourne

Brace yourself, Robbie went to a rap show in Melbourne and liked it

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Say what you will about the tiresome click-bait headlines that have been attached to Action Bronson over the past two or three years, but it’s not his fault that unpaid interns ‘working’ for the Hipster Music Mafia are obligated to post things like ‘Watch Action Bronson Take A Dump On A Midget And Fire Him Into Space’. This past Tuesday, he reminded me that he’s actually a gifted rapper who flows like melted buttah, baby. Best of all, he presents a larger-than-life character that’s never dull to witness in, erm, action—an essential ingredient in the increasingly tiresome live rap arena.

My primary motivation for attending The Forum on this particular evening was to witness the official Conservative Rap Coalition representative from Queens, a fellow by the name of Meyhem Lauren, and old running mate of Bronson from his Outdoorsman days. Having toiled away in the booth since he first hit the scene, Meyhem’s finest work yet is due to drop on the Fool’s Gold label at the end of this month, Piatto D’Oro.

Laurenovich was greeted warmly by the crowd, despite the fact that he doesn’t have the ‘market saturation’ that his ginger-bearded buddy does at this point, and proceeded to deliver a set of uncompromising beats and rhymes that show little regard for listeners less well-versed in Q-Borough rap—just the way I like it. He wisely included a quick medley of guest spots he’s done on Action projects to jog the memory of A Generation Without Liner Notes, before launching into his popular graff dedication ‘Got The Fever’ (the equivalent of shooting fish in a proverbial barrel at a Melbourne hip-hop show). Well played, sir.

When Bronson appeared, the crowd lost their shit. He immediately endeared himself to me by chiding the DJ / guy pushing play on the laptop and decided to start over. As he patrolled the stage in a manner not unlike a grizzly bear who had just stirred out of hibernation and was looking to take a bite out the first thing that looks at him sideways, he began to antagonise the bouncers, at one point violently tossing an almost full bottle of water at one of the ‘security’ bozos standing on stage and achieving a solid soaking of said hired goon. Less wonderful was seeing some savage in the crowd eagerly catch another near-full vessel of H2O and proceed to feverishly gulp it down in the hopes of ingesting some of his Sacred Saliva. C’mon son!

The show itself was pretty great, as he mixed up popular tunes from the Mr Wonderful album with old favourites such as ‘Shiraz’ and selections from Dr Lecter. The audience seemed to know every second word to most of the songs, suggesting that perhaps there is a large contingent of persons of a tender age who don’t have any rap on their phone other than Action Bronson, Kanye, and one of the Odd Future dudes, in much the same way as the average blockhead from my school was only familiar with Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys.

At some point—possibly as a result of vigorous water bottle flinging—Bronson broke his hand and required a large bowl of ice to rest his paw in at intermittent intervals. Amusing moments in the crowd included spotting a number of ‘Baby Bronsons’ (although you can’t really fault husky bearded Fanta pants finally having their time in the sun); the dudes who answered Action’s call-to-arms to smoke some weed but were standing way too close to the edge of the mob to blend in and had their weed stomped out by security; and the bespectacled lass who was stunned to discover that the star of the show was of Albanian descent following a flag-waving incident by a contingent from Thomastown in the audience (bonus internets points for her rolling with an Anthony Fantano look-alike).

As chuckle-worthy as these moments were, however, the clear stand-out was the utter disdain that A.B. had for the DJ, who I assume was either the guy who brought them out here or one of his mates, so as to save on a third plane ticket. Throughout the performance, Action repeatedly told dude to go fuck himself, yelled at him for cueing the wrong song, and made disgusted screw faces at the guy. For a mean-spirited punter such as myself, this was entertainment at its finest. And thus, I finally realised what it is I really want out of a live rap show—the DJ being continuously humiliated! Promoters, take note.

Keep up with Robbie’s weekly ‘No Country for Old (Rap) Men’ here.

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