Rapper Azealia Banks was supposed to take the main stage at Wynwood Pride at 1 am Saturday. But when she arrived hours later, her set didn’t last long.
Banks, a controversial performer who was billed as a headliner for the first day of the LGBTQ music festival, stormed off the stage in the middle of her performance. Fans booed and jeered at the rapper. She responded with two middle fingers.
Video captured by Miami Herald reporters show what led to the rapper’s early exit after her late arrival.
Hours before Banks was scheduled to perform, the first day of the three-day festival at the RC Cola Plant went relatively smoothly. The crowd grew larger as the night went on, and fans enjoyed the DJ sets and drag artists performing on stage.
By 1 am, hundreds of fans were at the stage, dancing to a DJ’s music and waiting. And they waited. And waited. And waited.
The DJ on stage tried her best to keep the crowd’s energy up, but by 2:30 am, people grew frustrated. Some chanted for a refund. Others sang, “Bring her out!”
Finally, around 3 am, Banks walked on stage. She wore a bodysuit that exposed her breasts. The crowd loved it.
But things took a turn a couple songs into the performance. Banks, who noticeably had low energy while performing, took a break from rapping to speak to the crowd about her frustrations with the event organizers.
“I was being f—ed with,” she said. According to Banks, the event had gone back and forth about whether or not she would be a headliner and changed her set times.
Banks’ words offended performers who were in the VIP section. Some yelled at her to go home. Several, including well-known drag artist Miss Toto, left.
Banks continued to perform a couple of more songs, but stopped again. This time, she told the audience she didn’t want to be there. Then came the boos. Banks threw her microphone when it was turned off. As she walked away, someone threw water from a bottle on her.
She was escorted off stage. The lights were turned on. Security began to usher disappointed, shocked and angry fans from the RC Cola Plant.
Banks is notorious for controversy and Twitter beef. The rapper, who is bisexual, has gone on homophobic and transphobic rants in the past. Despite her behavior, Banks has retained an LGBTQ fanbase for years.
But the chaotic performance at Wynwood Pride doesn’t bode well for the rapper’s reputation in her new home city. Banks moved to Miami last year.
Later Saturday morning, Banks took to Twitter to give her side of the story. She said that she was originally booked for 10 pm and the promoter moved her set to 1 am (The schedule that was posted on Wynwood Pride’s website listed that Banks would perform at 1 am The festival was supposed to end at 3 am)
Banks also claimed that there was dry ice on stage that gave her an allergic reaction. In a Twitter thread, she said that someone spit water at her “from his hpv lesion infested mouth,” and she made inflammatory statements about “the Hispanic citizens in south Florida.”
A fan asked Banks why she showed up hours late. “When you hire glam squad drummers guitarist DJs security guards and an entire crew who expect to work from 7, and your tour Manager is alerted that your set time is now 1 AM people have to rearrange their entire itinerary. Extreme unprofessionalism,” she responded.
Wynwood Pride declined to comment.
After Wynwood Pride announced its lineup last month, the Miami Herald asked the event’s co-founders Jor-El Garcia and José Atencio about booking Banks as a headliner despite her problematic past. Garcia defended Banks because she apologized for her past behavior.
“We believe in redemption culture, not cancel culture,” Garcia told the Herald.
Xyanna Gibbs, 18, said that she wanted Banks to be redeemed, too. “But then she goes and does this? It kind of felt like a spit in the face,” she said.
Regardless, Gibbs said that the person who threw the drink at Banks crossed a line.
“You don’t have to spit back in her face just because she did it,” Gibbs said. “It’s not an eye for an eye.”
As the crowd dispersed, Gibbs and some friends huddled together to discuss the drama that unfolded. The group of young people were disappointed and upset.
Mars Tran, 22, said he had mixed feelings about Banks performing because of her past behavior. He recalled a transphobic incident in which Banks called Arca, a musician who identifies as a nonbinary trans woman, a boy.
As a transgender man, Tran said he was surprised that a Pride event would book Banks in the first place.
“Why would you invite this person who clearly said that they don’t like trans people and who thinks that they/them pronouns are stupid?” Tran said. “Why would you invite them to a space that’s supposed to be safe?”
Nick Chong, 18, said they wanted at least a partial refund. It was their first time at Wynwood Pride.
“I’m just upset that I paid $90 to come see her and then she performed four songs, didn’t give the energy and then left,” Chong said.
Still, Chong said they’ll be back for Saturday to see the second headliner, British pop star Marina. They paid for it, after all.
Lauren Costantino, an audience engagement producer for the Miami Herald, contributed to this report.
This story was originally published June 11, 2022 5:13 PM.