Holy smokes! Or maybe not.
Night four of Converse Rubber Tracks’ series at The Sinclair puffed to a start. Just before hometown rapper Michael Christmas, the opening act, was about to step on stage, the fire alarm went off, and Sinclair staff ushered 500 people out of the building and onto the sidewalks. Someone leaned on a parked car and the car alarm blared. Michael Christmas, who was standing near it with his dad and some friends, rapped over the beat of the alarm.
A fire truck came. Firemen checked out the situation; all was okay. People filed back in the door, and Michael Christmas restarted the party.
Michael Christmas: Christmas Caroling
“Tick, tick!” said Christmas, his catchphrase, apropos for a delayed start.
“Tick, tick!” answered the crowd.
Christmas’ presence is getting better. Now with a nationwide 40-stop tour under his belt, Christmas commands the stage like the most charismatic relative at the holiday party—the cousin you actually look forward to having drinks with.
“Make noise for yellow R. Kelly,” Christmas said, referring to his Asian DJ, who popped out from behind his laptop to join Christmas in dancing a jig to a cover of “Buy U A Drank” by T-Pain.
Though Christmas’ actual rapping was solid as usual, when he tried his singing voice on, things were a little shaky. His falsetto was weak, but not so far off pitch that you couldn’t imagine Christmas caroling in the near future.
Idea: Hold a seminar to teach rappers how to sing. T-Pain can lead it.
Near the end of his set Christmas invited fellow Boston rapper Cousin Stizz, along with a few hype men, to join him for a new song. While Stizz brought good energy and looked comfortable on stage, the hype men frantically bounced back and forth like dogs bolting around a front yard after a long car ride.
To end his performance, Christmas told us a secret. The name of his new album is What a Weird Day.
Action Bronson: Professional Juvenile
To fully appreciate an Action Bronson (Ariyan Arslani) performance, one must first be reasonably acquainted with the man’s character traits. Bronson is an Albanian immigrant from Queens, New York, and a culinary school graduate who worked as a chef for the New York Mets. He has been a graffiti artist and a floral designer and currently hosts a show called “Fuck, That’s Delicious” on Munchies, Vice’s food channel. He is a 300-pound white rapper with a spongy orange beard, and a self-described hedonist. He starts fires on Twitter, body slams drunk fans who climb on stage, and talks more shit than a scatologist—it’s all part of his unfiltered, unfettered persona. Is it possible that Bronson tips the scale of rapper braggadocio further than it’s ever been tipped before? Yeah, it is. It’s also possible that he’s the most crudely compelling character in hip-hop today.
This is a guy who, in the middle of his performance last year at Ottawa Bluesfest, decided to bring his mic into a porta-potty and take a shit while continuing to rap, eventually emerging at the conclusion of—ahem—his verse, to a cheering crowd, and paused to take a picture with a fan before ambling back to the stage.
Whether performing, freestyling for Funkmaster Flex, or stringing rhymes in the studio, Bronson turns the burners on high and sears his supersized verses till well done. Good thing the fans at The Sinclair were hungry for some barnyard bars.
Bronson stalked on stage wearing a black button-down that would have fit anyone else in the building like a parachute. The crowd cheered. Bronson said, “Don’t act like you ain’t already seen me!”
It’s true, fans had already mobbed him outside during the evacuation. “Get your middle fingers up,” Bronson said, and fans obliged. His DJ dropped the beat for “Brand New Car,” the first track off Mr. Wonderful, his major-label debut album, and Bronson dove into his down-and-dirty rhymes.
As someone who regularly reminds reporters in his interviews that he’s high, Bronson may hold the world record for longest amount of time not being sober, and on Thursday night he urged all to join him. “Light the fuck up,” he said to the crowd, throwing a lighter to outstretched arms. “I see a lot of scared faces.”
“Because the fire alarm!” a few people said.
A lighter was not by any means the only object Bronson threw into the crowd. Famous for his in-performance giveaways, this time Bronson tossed about 10 pairs of Converse shoes into the crowd, as well what must have been at least 30 $50 Converse gift cards.
Though Chance the Rapper has a verse in Action Bronson’s song “Baby Blue,” off of Mr. Wonderful, Chance remained off stage. Instead Bronson and his DJ played a Biz Markie “Just a Friend” interlude.
After his final song, “Easy Rider,” Bronson tossed the mic into the air and walked off stage.
Chance the Rapper: Late Night Host
Light bulbs flashed like a late night television host walking on set as Chance the Rapper and his band, The Social Experiment took their positions.
Chance orchestrated band rhythm section hits with a flick of his wrist and a punch of his fist. The live band, an ultimate enhancer for a rapper, was crisp—smiles and nods exchanged between the two keyboardists on either side of the stage. They crackled with joy as Chance skittered across stage.
In “Wonderful Everyday: Arthur,” Chance slow danced with the mic stand, adding hand signals to accompany his lyrics. His performance was an antithesis to Action Bronson’s: warm, jazzy, joyful, which was especially emphasized when he sang his verse to Bronson’s “Baby Blue.” When Chance came to the line in the chorus that had the word “Bitch,” he prefaced it with “and now we’re going to have to say the B- word, but left the crowd to actually say it.
Throughout his performance Chance and crew splashed the crowd with water from water bottles about five too many times. By the final splash, people were shielding their faces.
“This is your show, Boston,” Chance said, getting the crowd going in the late hours. He professed his love to the crowd over and over again.
During the one-song encore, a fan crowd surfed near 1AM. What a night.
- Chance the Band Leader
- Michael Christmas stage presence
- Action Bronson swag
- No performance together by Chance the Rapper and Action Bronson
- Michael Christmas’ singing
- The fire alarm