You could feel it. Everyone could. A buzz of anticipation shrouded the pre-show reggae playing at The Anthem. Saturday, February 19th. Everyone had made their way here for one, two, or maybe three performers. This show, which would soon encapture this entire audience, was stacked with three rappers, each performing on their own and at different times throughout the night. First was Boldy James, next Earl Sweatshirt, and finally Action Bronson. Of course, to overlook The Alchemist, a producer, would prove criminal, as he played a crucial role throughout the entire night and their NBA Leather Tour.
The concert began without prior notice, The Alchemist kicking off the music with a sample of the masterful beats to come over the course of the rest of the night. His assertive adlibs, as well, roused the crowd as Boldy James—mind you, in a full winter jacket—sauntered out to center stage. Reunited on stage, the duo performed grimy yet inventive tracks, clearly products of the Detroit rap scene. James’ and The Alchemist’s latest record, however, Super Tecmo Bo, stood out. In this album, which the duo released late last year, James seems to adopt a style similar to that of Earl Sweatshirt—laid back and lyrical bars. Similarly, The Alchemist’s calm, rhythmic production reflects that of Earl Sweatshirt’s. From “Bumps and Bruises” to “No Laughing Matter,” James and the Alchemist captivated the hundreds of fans who surely made it to The Anthem in order to see Earl. And, despite how apparent the fan’s lack of knowledge about Boldy’s music was, for me it could not have been a better introduction to more of his music.
Earl came next to plenty of support from the audience. He performed songs from his latest critically applauded album, SICK!, along with a mix of past hits. For the majority of the set, the fans enjoyed Earl’s laidback music; at one point, even Earl himself nodded to the low-key type of music he makes by making fun of a group of fans who were attempting to start a mosh pit. Nearing its finale, Earl’s set took an interesting turn when he disclosed to his audience, “we’re gonna do something a little different here, so just go with it.” Subsequently, the piano roll of Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmares” set the auditorium to life. By the time Action Bronson came out, the fans were still buzzing with excitement.
While everyone performed well, Action Bronson by far stole the crowd’s heart that night. He was the perfect final act with his defiant WWE-inspired gestures, his tireless movement across the stage, and intermittent pauses devoted to signing literally any and everything the crowd threw at him. By far, the general favorite moment of his performance was his tribute to Mac Miller when he played their shared song “Red Dot Music.” Thank you to The Anthem for this opportunity and for Boldy, The Alchemist, Earl, and Action!