Wednesday, 19 February 2014
Action Bronson @ The Camden Barfly (2 Years Later)
So, way back when I was still living in London and, if my memory serves me correctly, I had just fought my way through a particularly bitter and miserable winter. I remember this because on the day of this gig the weather was actually warm and sunny for the first time in what seemed like an age, so I took the ultimate adrenaline-fuelled risk of wearing a pair of shorts as a testament to the clement temperatures. This, of course, turned out to be a major mistake; as soon as the sun went down it became absolutely fucking freezing and I, along with all of the other optimistic idiots in attendance broke out in a severe case of the cold chicken skin shivers, hanging around in Camden attempting to look really cool (no pun intended) and actually freezing my nuts off.
The day started innocently enough (as it always does). I was living in Brixton at the time so I hopped on the tube and headed north, eventually meeting my good buddies 184 and The Purist in Nando’s where they were eating a delicious chicken dinner with Action Bronson and his DJ/Producer Tommy Mas. Shortly after this rendez vous we stepped to the venue for the first of two shows Bronson was due to perform, the first being a matinee that must have kicked off somewhere around the 4pm mark as it was still light outside. Those two superstar showboats disappeared upstairs into the VIP area, obviously, leaving me downstairs on my Jack Jones with a bunch of flock-of-seagulls sporting skinny-jeaned hipsters, T-shirt sleeves rolled up to expose many garish tattoos that mainly consisted of skulls and roses, as is the fashion these days it would seem. I didn’t mind much, despite feeling like Patrick Ewing’s knees in a room full of Vince Carters.
The anticipatory tension in the room by this point was palpable; it was Bronson’s first London show after all and the fan boys were positively chomping at the bit. The excitement reached such a point, in fact, that a number of the more youthful attendees saw fit to rather nonchalantly light up weed and proceed to fill the small, humid and airless room with the scent of sweet, sweet piff. I admired the balls required to do this but ultimately felt that I was better off not partaking, especially when a steroid fuelled bouncer with the crazed look and complexion of a wronged kebab shop employee waded in and grabbed a couple of the guilty parties by the scruff of the neck and chucked them out before Bronson even took to the stage. Poor bastards.
Hilariously, the gravity of this situation was compounded in the most ironic way conceivable when the man of the moment took the stage mere moments later and proceeded to light a giant spliff, filling the room with smoke and making the kids who had just been kicked out look like they’d been playing with puff-puff cigarettes in comparison. No ‘bouncer to the rescue’ on this occasion, and I can only imagine that it wouldn’t have been a pretty scene if a forced intervention had taken place judging on Bronson’s current habit of practicing wrestling moves on anyone who attempts to impede on his stage show in any way. The hilarity continued as he proceeded to light 4 or 5 blunts in the next 20 minutes, which was a herculean example of smoking ability and also a brilliant display of showmanship; it did, however, cause me to feel more and more sympathetic for the poor lads whom had been chucked out moments earlier for a comparatively miniscule transgression. FTP.
The show was the show, it was good, although I remember remarking at the time that the selection of songs that he performed was very unusual. Finishing on ‘Hookers At The Point’ wasn’t really the look (it was shortly after the first Blue Chips had dropped)…. He did do ‘Shiraz’ and also that joint with the fantastic beat with that Riff Raff tool on it, but otherwise it was generally unremarkable. The two major highlights of the show (apart from the smoke fest at the start) came when Bronson walked through the crowd whilst rapping and dropped £100 on the bar for anyone lucky enough to be in reaching distance to buy themselves a drink. I wasn’t, unfortunately, although he did brush past me and bestowed a rather large pool of sweat on my arm. Superb. Then, a little later on (or maybe even during this period), a certain UK Hip Hop producer (mentioned earlier) succumbed to a single pull on a spliff that, we later surmised, contained slightly more than just your average dose of psychosis-inducing super skunk, with hilarious results. During the unfolding of this scenario, whilst I was standing in a sea of hipsters waiting for the show to begin, my two compadres had been upstairs schmoozing with the talent.
Unsurprisingly, part of the extended entourage that were chilling upstairs before the show included a number of Camden’s very own Piff Gang, a group of young men known as much for their penchant for getting wavey as for their skill at rapping. During the show the young man known as Don Silk had sparked and passed a doobie to one of my two producer buddies, who unwittingly took a man sized hit in order to remain in the spirit of the occasion. Unfortunately, it seems that this particular doobie had been laced with an additional ingredient (we later assumed it to be some form of liquid codeine) which caused the poor fellow to turn grey, green and every shade in between. Hilarity ensued (I wasn’t exactly sober myself) as the producer in question repeatedly proclaimed that he had never been so high. The singular drag also served to completely numb his throat, resulting in the now immortal exclamation – ‘My throat is high’. “Dude, I am so high.” “How high?” “So high. Like, so high, I can’t feel my throat. My throat is high.”
So, my friend was high. So high, in fact, that we quite happily took a walk up the road in the now freezing winds with Tommy Mas for pizza and coffee and some much needed air after the first show; a spontaneous trip which in turn became my entry visa into the forbidden land of ‘Above The Barfly’. At this point, things get a little hazy. A lot of booze and a lot of everything else, too. Add the fact that Bronson and his cohorts were not drinking on this particular occasion and you have myself, two of my good time buddies and the whole of the Piff Gang with a few crates of Red Stripe, a good few bottles of Grey Goose and an abundance of the stickiest of the icky. Needless to say, my memory is somewhat skewed now, although one of my last endearing memories is of Action Bronson taking a marker pen to a freshly painted white wall and nailing it with a tag. I went to the toilet before leaving, must’ve only been gone for 5 minutes, and when I came back to chill for a little while longer before dusting off I was confronted with quite a scene.
As far as I’m aware both Action Bronson and Piff Gang were henceforth banned from performing at The Camden Barfly ever again; rumour has it that they’ve banned Hip Hop shows in the venue altogether ever since then. We bustled downstairs as part of the entourage, stayed for 15 minutes or so and then realised we (myself, 184 and The Purist) were all completely shit faced so we got the fuck out of there. Bronson was visibly more….. Subdued than during his last performance (subdued by MOUNTAINS OF WEED, haha) so we didn’t feel like we were missing out on much. And there you have it. Another brilliant Hip Hop anecdote communicated from my brain via my fingers. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I am about to enjoy the dump I am about to take.