Sunday, June 30, 2013

Azealia Banks Takes on Glastonbury

Yesterday, freshman rapper Azealia Banks performed at this year's Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts, and I couldn't be happier with the result. I have been quite a big fan of Banks since I heard the songs from 1991, so I had been anticipating this performance for a while. I was especially looking forward to the event knowing that she would finally perform her newest single release.

I don't live in the United Kingdom, nor do I have the money to travel there to see one artist perform, but luckily the festivities at Glastonbury are usually professionally recorded and released online. I have embedded a YouTube video of Banks' full performance later in the post for everybody to watch.

In a one hour set, Banks was able to squeeze in just under twenty songs, including all four songs from 1991, and some of the highlights from her Fantasea mixtape such as "Atlantis," "Jumanji," and fan-favorite "Esta Noche." She also sprinkled in a few extra songs like "No Problems" and her rejected rendition of Baauer's "Harlem Shake," both of which were only unofficially released via her Soundcloud account.

While performing, Banks donned long black locks and an interesting costume composed of an aqua-colored two-piece outfit, with soft spikes running down her arms and legs. Eventually, she took off the spikes but no major costume changes took place. She also resumed wearing colored eye contacts, this time wearing only one, which changed her left eye color to match her outfit.

As noted by The Guardian journalist Rebecca Nicholson in her review of the performance, the crowd watching Banks at the event was less than excitable. From what I saw in the YouTube video of the full performance, there were some really big fans of Banks that migrated closer and closer to the stage, while all of the other people were "baffled punters waiting for '212,'" as Nicholson called them. Come on, people: it's Azealia Banks! Be at least a little bit excited, instead of saving all of your energy for just one of her many great songs.

While most everybody in the crowd was looking forward to the classic "212," true fans of Banks like myself were anticipating the final song of her set: "Yung Rapunxel." I hadn't seen a live performance of Banks' newest single until today, and I was definitely surprised. 

Since the song's release, I wondered how she would perform the song live, particularly the screamed verses that make her sound like she's having a mental breakdown.  All of my thoughts were put to rest today as Banks ran back and forth on the stage, naturally spewing out the lyrics. Without warning, she picked up a bright pink megaphone to scream "Brr-brr-brrt / Bitch better quit that, quit that chit-chat / If you strapped ******! / Dare you, dare you / Brr-brr-brrt" as the fans screamed in excitement. I had my doubts about the live performance of this song, but she really pulled it off.

Fans also got another treat during the set list when Banks gave a sneak preview of a new song called "ATM Jam," which features a rapper named Pharrell, who has been gaining a lot of popularity as of late. I'm not the biggest fan of Pharrell's voice, but I'm not going to judge the song based on the small snippet that Banks played.

The performance was really enjoyable to watch, even though I wasn't there in person. Banks had spunk and the talent to back her attitude up, and seemed to genuinely enjoy being on the stage and performing for the fans that actually wanted to be there to see her full set list. Congrats on a job well done, Azealia! (Now let's get down to business and release Broke With Expensive Taste.)

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