Downstairs Park City
with Broken Silence, Concise Kilgore and Intuition
Back in the States after touring Australia, the Flushing, Queens-based underground rapper—and one-time gourmet chef,—Action Bronson, spit his gift of gab to a crowd thick with camera flashes and fur-lined hoodies at Downstairs Park City, the final weekend of Sundance. Bronson is a short guy, but nothing short of fresh and original. He is often compared to Ghostface Killah in his style and flow. His rhymes are primarily about food and are quick and witty like Del the Funky Homosapien. Bronson has released two LPs since 2011, a collaborative mix-tape with The Alchemist and has two more albums scheduled for release this year. His debut album, Dr. Lecter, was released for digital download only and was received with incredibly high acclaim, giving Bronson a strong position in the underground hip hop scene. Producer and DJ Statik Selektah paired up with Bronson on his second album, Well Done, released just eight short months after Dr. Lecter.
Downstairs is a comfortably dark and modestly swanky club for an intimate hip hop show like Action Bronson. I’m given a heads up that there might be some hip hop legends showing up, so I secure my spot by the sound board to ensure my view covers the whole room. The night opens with Salt Lake’s Broken Silence, an unconventional fusion of hip hop and electric guitar, not to be confused with that horrible uprising of “rap/rock” from the early ’00s. They have an incredible energy and presence that fills the club toppled with layers of strategically timed rhymes and high-end guitar fuzz.The MCs are tight and together as the club starts to fill in halfway through their set, producing an interesting mix of hoity-toity Sundance goers and hip hop enthusiasts.
Concise Kilgore are about to take the stage when I spot Talib Kweli get ushered past me into a VIP booth and my brain goes numb. I can’t even pay attention to anything but the bumping beats in my chest and Talib fuckin’ Kweli kickin’ it five feet from me with a bottle of Grey Goose. The club is packed—I’m standing shoulder to shoulder, making an ass of myself shuffling to some decent beats produced by the in-house DJ. I’m a little let down by the lack of energy of Concise Kilgore when I notice Steven Ellison, known by the stage name, Flying Lotus walk by and lean on a pillar. I introduce myself and surprisingly end up chatting and people watching with Lotus most of the night as L.A. rapper, Intuition brings back the energy to the room with “Al Bundy”—some sick, deep beats and flawless, rapid-fire rhymes.
As Intuition finishes psyching the crowd, Bronson, all five feet of him, is ushered through the flannel and beanie wall by a substantial entourage. The room is strobing with camera flashes and a string sample from “Rest in Peace” by Extreme loops as Bronson opens the show with “Pouches of Tuna” rapping to a sea of hands: “Baby girl, you’re wylin if you sniff this/you gotta take a piss test, piss right through your fish nets.” Bronson stealthily makes his way amid the camera flashes and sardine-can-packed crowd to the middle of the room like a ninja. I laugh as people don’t even notice this huge, plaid wearing, bearded rapper sneaking up on them and rapping right in their face about sharpening his knives when he transitions into “Brunch,” off of Dr. Lecter, and smoothly saunters back to the stage. Bronson gives out a call for everyone to grind during “Randy the Musical,” and the whole room slows down to a nasty, awkward grinding pace.
I’m about to lose my Beef n’ Cheddar when I hear a smooth guitar loop a la ’70s urban crime films as Bronson spits about lamb laced with fennel, sprinkling cheese on top of him and cash money in “The Symbol” from his 2012 mix-tape collaboration with The Alchemist, Rare Chandeliers: “In only one year, considered as a veteran–top of the line the whip look like tropical lime–off the boat, cousin–glock by the spine .” Check out the video, it’s fucking awesome and features a bad ass mofo Bronson donning a blonde wig and beating fools up.
Bronson left as ninja-like as he came, kicking my ass, making me incredibly hungry and bumping the shit out of Park City.