Action Bronson, Club Red, 6/8/12

Action Bronson Club Red Friday, May 8

See also: NYC's Action Bronson Plays It Tough and Cool

"You want me to rap or what?" That was the first thing that Flushing, Queens, rapper Action Bronson asked the crowd last night at Club Red in Tempe. Rhetorical question or not, the but audience predictably roared back with approval.

I use the word predictably, because that's what it was. When the musician you came to see asks you if you're ready to rock or have a good time, you're supposed to yell and scream. But predictability doesn't always necessarily make for great live performances.

Fortunately, if there is one word that describes Action Bronson's performance last night it was unpredictable. Bronson's set was insane and fun.

But lets stick with "unpredictable" tag for a moment. Take for example this guy's decision to go from well-respected NYC chef to rapper. Then there's his music. His songs range from fictionalized accounts of hookers and pimps on the streets (inspired by the HBO documentary Hookers At The Point) to songs about an old obscure wrestler from the WWF named Barry Horowitz.

After last night it's clear that this wildly varied approach carries over to his live performances. It started off pretty normal enough, with Bronson opening up his set with "Pouches of Tuna" and "Steve Wynn," a pair of tracks off this year's excellent mixtape Blue Chips. From about that point on, though, you were never quite sure where he was going. Literally.

After a few lines into his song "Ron Simmons" Bronson made his way into the audience and while most people just assumed he was going to perform in the crowd he was really making his way to the bathroom. He kept performing, even while using the urinal only stopping to wash his hands and then told his DJ to start the song over.

Bronson eventually make his way out into the crowd, and actually spent a good portion of his set performing amongst the crowd and even pausing from time to time to take photos with those that had crowded around him. He weaved his way through the crowd before eventually stopping in front of the merch table where he made it a point highlight a few of the t-shirts available for purchase. It worked too, as a few people bought some shirts.

And just as unpredictable as the show had been so far, it ended pretty much the same way, with Bronson unexpectedly rapping a cappella and then thanking everyone from coming out.

Bronson brought a tremendous amount of energy to his performance, and the "what is going to happen next" feel made for a memorable show. Pretty amazing accomplishment considering that the dude's eyes were mostly closed during his show. And not because he seemed tired.

Critics Notebook:

Last Night: Action Bronson at Club Red

Personal Bias: Bronson hooked me with the song "Barry Horowitz." Anybody who can make a song as good as that about Barry Horowitz deserves to give himself a pat on the back.

Overheard in the crowd: "Where's Riff Raff?" If you don't know who Riff Raff is you should definitely check out the video for 'Hot Shots Part Deux' featuring Action Bronson and Riff Raff. It is truly amazing. "

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Mike Escoto