Sectarian chants from a section of the audience mar an otherwise enjoyable gig from the comedy hip-hop duo
As a performer and die-hard fan of live comedy, I looked forward to seeing The Rubberbandits at Belfast’s Stiff Kitten. The crossover genre of comedy hip-hop is often (sometimes deservedly) overlooked, but with the phenomenal overnight success of The Rubberbandits’ single 'Horse Outside' late last year, I hoped this gig would be something special.
The evening starts as a young man takes to the stage with a cosy looking cardigan draped over his shoulders. He introduces himself as D.O.D. (short for Daniel O’Donnell) and works his way through a mercifully short set of hip-hop tracks. These revolve around the central premise that he is, in fact, the aforementioned Donegal country singer, and reveal the truth about the excesses of his supposed sexual deviancy. D.O.D's songs are interspersed with repeated shouts of ‘whataboutye’; very much a one trick pony. There are only so many words that you can rhyme with ‘balls’.
The next act is a fully fledged nu-metal outfit, complete with drop tuned seven string guitars and five string bass. At first I am a little perplexed about their inclusion on the bill. Then I recognise the lead singer as one of the stars of the 'Horse Outside' video, and things begin to make a little more sense.
Then a few audience members begin shouting overtly sectarian chants. It throws the lead singer, who delivers a quick cross-community pep talk about how it doesn’t matter what a person’s political or religious views are. Fair enough. We all hope that will be the end of that. The band finish off their set with a Flogging Molly inspired celtic punk number. They are a very tight outfit, but as Daniel O’Donnell himself might say, they are just not my cup of tea.
In the space between this act and the headliner, the spiteful chanting from certain crowd members escalates. The Rubberbandits are renowned pundits of spoofing narrow-minded behaviour like this, but it's clear that these heckles are not ironic.
When the Rubberbandits take to the stage, the crowd raise the roof. The Limerick rappers have their trademark Spar plastic bags wrapped around their heads, and are accompanied by another masked man on a set of decks. With ferocious energy they tear through their set of gangsta funk tracks, displaying a real flair for writing a clever rhyme and performing it with hilarious and impressive vocal dexterity.
They mix together a pitch perfect spoof of the LA gangsta lifestyle with stereotypical rural Irish behaviour and manage to come across as genuinely quite charming.
The duo round off the night with their biggest single to date, which is met with a riotous response. They are joined by two buxom ladies wearing oversized horse masks, who proceed to bodypop around the stage. It’s a predictable but fitting end to a largely enjoyable performance.
Yet the behaviour of some audience members leaves a sour taste. It is beyond me how a track which proclaims that 'George Lucas is in the IRA' could be treated as anything other than the over the top, ridiculous parody that it is. Evidently, some people seem to believe it is, in fact, a real homage to said organisation. Is a joke still funny if people are laughing for the wrong reasons?