There is hardly a week that we’re not talking about Azealia Banks. Whether it’s her latest track, fashion collab or Twitter beef, the girl knows how to keep the spotlight fixed on her. Personally, I’ve turned to her for my bad bitch anthems and style inspiration for a minute, so when her Future Music sideshows were announced, I knew I had to be a part of what would surely be a Fantasea experience.
Rocking up to The Palace about an hour or so after doors opened, I was a little concerned because the venue was almost empty. Luckily it filled, albeit pretty slowly, with the main floor pretty much packed just before Banks’ 10.00 pm start time. The support was provided by DJs Prequel and Nina Las Vegas who respectively dropped amazing sets and managed to keep the crowd hyped and moving. The party vibe was genuinely surprising to me, mainly because I’d only really been to male dominant hip-hop gigs before and I guess it’s just not gangsta for dudes to dance. I could already feel we were in for a fun night.
The fangirl in me usually requires a front and centre position for gigs like this but I tagged along with some girlfriends who favoured the less crowded second-level balcony and man, am I grateful for that. Had I chosen to sweat it out with the masses on the ground level, my vertically challenged self would never have been able to appreciate the full glory that was Miss Banks.
As expected, the crowd lost their shit when Azealia finally sashayed out on to the stage. Now this girl is a babe on any given day, but in person, with magnificent jet-black weave and that outfit, she was on another level. After the initial shock and slight confusion, I was pretty keen on copping myself a crotch-less, butt-less bodysuit too.
She looked amazing and had that cute Harlem Chick vibe going but that was certainly no distraction from her actual talent as a performer. Visibly buoyed by the fans, as well as two equally energetic dancers, Azealia bounced and grinded her way through each song, selected from her mixtapes and EP. I have trouble keeping up with her rapidfire lyrics on any day but Banks is obviously a pro, speeding through every track without missing a beat. The only time the backing track was called in was for some of the difficult high/low sung lines, but hey, unlike T-Pain, she’s a rapper, not a ‘sanga’.
The set list included bangers across her young career, including the early release L8R, which she wrote when she was 18 and is a personal favourite of mine. The crowd expectedly went bananas for popular tracks like 1991, Luxury, viral sensation 212 and the “Azealia Banks anthem”, Liqourice. Not unfamiliar with controversy, Banks’ then dropped the sanctioned version of Harlem Shake, which she followed with the sneaky quip, “Fuck that n***a Bauuer” – if my ears weren’t deceiving me. Her cover of Prodigy’s Firestarter was well received by the masses, as well as the band itself – they’ve invited her to perform the song with them at Saturday’s Future Music Festival in Sydney.
My only criticism is that her set felt too short. Maybe because the saying is true about fun and time flying. Or maybe because her tracks are usually only a minute and a half long. Either way, the fans were milling around for a while afterwards, hoping for an encore, which was obviously never going to happen because we’d heard everything. In any case, it really was a testament to Banks’ showmanship and unapologetic approach to her music. This really is how the bad bitches do it.
Future Music Festival will be hitting Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide this weekend. So if you’re at any of these shows, I strongly suggest you get your asses to her set because you’ll be in for a big, cheeky treat.
Photography by Melissa Cowan.