Iggy Azalea at Bayou Music Center, 10/3/2014
Photos by Jack Gorman
Iggy Azalea Bayou Music Center October 3, 2014
Artists come and go. That's a fact of the music business. It's very easy to lose relevancy in any aspect of life, but seems much easier in the music industry. If, as an artist, you don't stay at the forefront, you're pushed to the back of the line as soon as the next best thing comes around. While that's probably true in most aspects of life, it's most noticeable in music.
There's a reason we have a category called "One Hit Wonders." Hell, VH1 basically survived off the genre for the better part of a decade in the '90s. And while you don't realize that it's happening during the right here and now, wait until a decade from now and tell me how Gotye or Macklemore's career turned out. I promise the Lumineers won't be a highly charting band again, either.
But then came along Iggy Azalea seemingly out of nowhere within the past year, and while at first seemed like she might fit in that category, she has now blown up to become a huge star. With a pair of top singles with the ever-so-catchy "Fancy" and her guest spot on another recent up-and-comer Ariana Grande's "Problem," suddenly Azalea is a household name.
And you can already tell that she's different than the host of one-hit wonders that have flooded the airwaves over the years and won't fall back into obscurity. Azalea has a certain swagger about her, which was noticeable from the moment she hit the stage Friday night. She seems super-laid-back, but knows how to strut the gifts she was given. And yes, while I'm mostly talking about her vocal prowess and abilities as a rapper, that's not all I'm talking about.
Azalea is unapologetically riding the wave of the popularization of the big ass: Kim Kardashian, J-Lo, Nicki Minaj and now her; look no further than Iggy's new duet with J-Lo herself, "Booty." But it takes more than a grandiose derriere to make it big in this industry. It seems this young lady has the talent and ability to (pardon the pun) back that ass up -- Azalea has a unique style and approach to hip-hop, and is putting a well-received new twist to the genre that hasn't really featured many white females at the forefront.
The Australian expat joined famed rapper and producer T.I.'s Grand Hustle Records early in her career to help give it the the boost it needed. When that didn't pan out due to label drama, she finally dropped her debut album, The New Classic, on Def Jam in late April, despite "Fancy" already being on regular rotation in radio stations across the country. With a certain star-prowess already surrounding her with her look and style, Azalea had no problem breaking into the big time.
Which brings us to her performance at Bayou Music Center on Friday night. In the area for her big Austin City Limits festival debut the next day, she brought her stage show to the sold-out downtown venue. After a well-received and energetic set from Houston's DJ Ill Set, an energetic young lady who had almost as much charisma as she did frizzy hair, it was time for the Iggy Azalea show. [Note: this review has been amended to add in Ill Set's name -- ed.]
And what a show it was. From the get-go, there was glitter and ass and then more ass and even more glitter. And then even more ass. Like Big Freedia would be proud. There was a whole lot of rapping too, but that wasn't the easiest to hear until the sea of tween cheers and people shouting "Fuck Love, Gimme Diamonds" finally came to a manageable level -- about two, maybe three songs deep into the show.
But honestly, I couldn't even pay attention to her words throughout the beginning because there were so many things going on all around me. My show-ADD kicked in full effect thanks to the numerous youngster selfies and jazz hands. Thankfully that all eventually chilled out, and I was able to fully embrace the performance.
Because Azalea has only that one album under her belt, and a few other random viral tunes, this was already destined to be a short and sweet performance, but she did her best to keep the night going with banter about her history in Houston ("I used to live in this wonderful town") to elongated numbers with her backing squad of talented dancers to spotting her favorite outfits in the crowd ("those are some rad pink pants!").
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Even though she's being sold as the next pop star, Azalea stands out from the pack because she's actually really good at what she does. While her words are somewhat hard to understand at times due to her accent and the speed of her approach, which comically makes it sound at times like Hannibal Buress' "Gibberish Rap," that's about the only non-positive to come out of that performance.
Otherwise it was solid, a perfect hour of great pop-first tunes with a serious hip-hop background, all matched by a well-choreographed show to go along with the entire set. Highlighted by her more dance-friendly numbers like "Work" and "Pu$$y," the hour-long performance never had a low point. It was never too much of a good thing, and honestly could have even lasted longer than it did.
Closing the performance with "Fancy," which unfortunately was missing the guest spot from Charlie XCX (don't worry, she'll be at Fitz soon), the night ended without much hubbub besides a glitter-soaked bow and a lot of crowd appreciation.
While it remains to be seen what is to come of Azalea's budding career, it certainly seems to be off to a good start. From what I heard of her set at ACL the next day, she drew the biggest crowd of the festival, which doesn't surprise me in the slightest. I just hope she can maintain the current amount of success she's been seeing lately, but have a feeling that shouldn't be a problem.
Next stop, Toyota Center.
Personal Bias: I really didn't put too much stock into Iggy Azalea until shortly before this weekend. "Fancy" is a catchy number with a great beat, but I didn't give her much of a chance and kind of blew her off as just another bullshit pop act. This show opened my eyes, and while I might not be regularly listening to her (I'm a Wilco type of guy), I'll never pass up on one of her shows.
The Crowd: There were a large amount of young girls in the crowd. Like really young. Like grade-school young; unsupervised as well. If I had a young daughter, I'm not sure If I'd really enjoy having her scream along to songs called "Fuck Love" and "Pu$$y." Even the words to "Fancy" aren't necessarily G-rated. You really want your child "on that murder biz?" Didn't think so. Be a better parent.
Overheard In the Crowd: This assumedly drunk train wreck came up to the front of the bar line that was obviously ten people deep. Immediately realizing that she was cutting, she quickly shouted, "I'm not cutting!" before stumbling off, only to quickly realize that her date had ditched her.
Random Notebook Dump: T-shirt cannons are so exciting. Match that with purple smoke and damn.
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