(photo by Paul Tarpey)
The Rubberbandits Mystery Tour-Dec 28th 2009
The Systems work of Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert created the classic templates that have been used in European roadsign design since the mid 60s. Their design template was carefully applied in the layout of the flyer for tonight's hidden performance. This was the first conceit as usually the information delivered by these templates is emotionless and directional. The info on this flyer however promised a ‘pure’ secret location with the Bandits hosting The Hardy Bucks, Walter Mitty and the Realists followed by ‘Topless Lesbians firebreathers who shift each other’. The second conceit now associated with the flyer is the recasting of the traditional Xmas performance fare as an occasion of a fantastical anti- materialist catharsis. Its in your face while you stuff your face.
In gentler contrast, over in the Southcourt Hotel in Limerick City, Brendan Grace's sold out whimsical take on the season gently loosened another button on its waistcoat.
And so the subliminally charged flyer drifted towards Birdhill where it settled on a tent on the side of the motorway. This is the venue, and as we cross the road we avoid the American styled trucks blaring their horns as they spot the lit up encampment. They must have regretted having to deal with the recession deadlines that prevented them pulling in to enjoy sum sorta hoedown.
In a carpark Limerick club tribes - perhaps the nieces and nephews of 40 year old Limerick Rave veterans - spill from the bus to stake their claim on new territory. The ‘Don't rubbish Tipp’ border sign on the road offering a wan welcome. The local Security team alternated between fixing wristbands while slugging buckfast with a multi tasked calm found only on such county borders. Later, a near naked young man was bounced from the tent by very these same men. After throwing himself from the stage and getting evicted he only found himself rubbed down and returned back under the spotlight for the Bandits encore.That's the service every exhibitionist is guaranteed in Tipp.
Middle Ireland's Tubridy is turned down on the plasma in the bar beside the tent. He's mirroring Mary McAleese as both share a moon faced moment that renders the TV vacant as a bleached rectangle. Just some more enforced festive filler to be ignored by the bars regular auld fellas who tonight are busy meeting and saluting the Limerick youth. The lack of bad lads generating smiles between both camps.
Two complementary Buckfast serving young women, their faces covered behind Tesco bags at the tents entrance direct you inside. A man at the back of the tent is covered in hotdog fumes for later. Gelled haired boys politely offer each other urinating space outside the portaloos. Local ladies in the bar apologise for the basic female restroom facilities. Tables are made from chairs and there is carefree smoking before the cigarette machine mysteriously breaks down and rumours abound about the escalating price for one smoke in the carpark. Dirty club sounds pump. A youth on a chair leads the dancing by waving his crutches. Glam girls in heels wear cut off ‘Lets get wreaked on bags of glue’ T- Shirts, and from the speakers The Shamen cackle ‘Es are good’
Mayo's Hardy Bucks are lit up on stage. They are the culturally educated Youtubed purveyors of a deconstructed version of every Country and Irish cassette tape that ended up unspooled on the side of the N17. In the smoke and red light their Dunnes stored up sartorial ramblings are projected at those behind the stage barrier who know of them through glowing i-Phones.
In admirable Situationist fashion they self negate any attempt to describe what they or the occasion are about in conventional terms. Deep voiced profanities, a shutupnletmefinish story about a testicle bra which was left hanging...., dead air saved with ‘de ye like the Rubberbandits?’, cans thrown to the audience and a plea for a Shakespearean re-assessment of the soliloquy in Glengarry Glen Ross to be considered via a non racist reading of Big Mommas house. Shouts. The Nissan Micra. More Shouts . A mention of the false prophet of Knock shrine. More cans. By now, trancelike and wreathed in stage smoke, there is a sense of pentecostal perversion as the group invoke without saying , the philosopher Guy Debords words ‘When the real world is transformed into mere images, mere images become real beings – dynamic figments that provide the direct motivations for a hypnotic behavior. It is the opposite of dialogue.’
The Bucks are another link in the Country n' Irish continuum with its leftfield recording of localised history. Remember as ‘out there’ as people like to paint the ‘Mad’ stuff associated with The Hardy Bucks and the Bandits , none of these performers have reached the level of cultural significance that Seamus Moore and others have done in their videos. The Bandits recent link up with Richie Kavanagh properly acknowledges this tradition and the continuum.
Next. Walter Mitty and the realists razored post–post powerpopped punk orientates the tents compass towards a gig scenario while also soundtracking the Hardy Bucks as they diligently went around the Tent to be phone-photoed by groups. Tomorrow those people's facebook pages will host both Bucks videos and photos of them with the Bucks, then the Bucks pages will reference both this and the entropic nature of it all through the prism of desire which will then make it to a stage routine which will be you tubed and ....etc.
And Now....The Rubberbandits announce Willie O Deejay! Let the Panto began. Half Naked Chrome Boy, bedroom mirrored to perfection sparred and feather tarred with his partner about tracksuit things and Xmas. Willies shuddering beats set up the banger ‘Too many Gee’ and the mission that is Limerick as a reflected art form commenced in collective yells and screams. Two lads in Tesco bag head gear backed up by a Dj in a Willie O Dea mask now represent..in a Tent.
The Bandits are a working concept that put time and effort into the notion of your idea of the Limerick outerclass as stand alone entertainment and throw it back in your face. As their work gets more surreal their delivery and mission gets more focused. Underlining the project is a solid anti-materialist polemic in their own stage persona and their songs characterisations. This responsibility manifests in all their events. Its everything that makes up their Limerick identity, from Behavioural Science to Pseudo-Republicanism.
The RubberBandits project was started back when the Kelthick Tiger rewarded and bestowed titles on those that venerated self serving materialist solutions in business. This agenda then speculated on an unrealistic imagining of how society should regard itself through the tropes associated with wealth accumulation. Consequently, the resulting class divisions and media slackness corralled the outerclass into virtual estates and gang-landed the image of Limerick. Certain areas and populations were then relegated as the failures of a project that hyper-capitalistically assumed total authority over territory and the associated descriptive cultural mannerisms in that territory. Us and them, and ignore them.
The Bandits appropriate the ethos of this dynamic as a creative act referencing scenarios and ignored typologies. There are no victims in these songs and rants, no placing one zone over another, there is only resistance.
In their sometimes oblique anti materialist stance The Bandits material manipulates so called base content but never at the expense of those referred. It is tightly controlled for maximum impact. Regard the hyper-real carefully crafted humour involved in intensely describing a persona through the your love of a Greyhound, then delivering a tender ballad ‘Roisín, i want to fight your father’ in the same breath. The audacity of a lot of the material is a major factor in the Bandits success. ‘Shut the fuck up’ the lads say early on ‘This is Scripted'.
The curtains at the back of Willie O Deejay open to reveal a crucified Santa. The Half naked prayers of Chrome and his partner in a sinless white tracksuit beg for presents. There is silence for this Xmas vulgarity and preparation for things that are not usually presented panto wise. The cursed Santa offers a video tape of Glenroe to the furious duo before relenting and summoning up the promised ‘Topless Lesbians firebreathers who shift each other’. The brief parody of a performance from the girls who then returned to dancing in the audience bounced a few Brechtian signifiers off the Tents canvas
Furious beats herald on stage something that looks like an analogue David Cronenberg mutant test. The angular dancing and antlers can only mean one thing, its Rudolph the ‘Rave’- deer. Next, genuinely frightening tattooed militia drummers accompany the reading out from a list of all the people who you may not have realised were members of the IRA.
Then, in all his juddering dystopian glory a distressed looking Robocop with a Garda Cap enters stage left to annoy the boys with the time old ‘I want ye out of here by half one’ mantra.
20 years ago when NWA released Fuck the police a couple of hiphop heads made a looped tape of it put it in a beatbox and placed it, at full volume on the back wall of Henry St Garda Station. Tonight in Birdhill that moment is remembered as Robogarda is flipped offstage. All the characters returned for a happy finale before a shimmering section from ‘Once Upon a Time In The West signalled the end of the performance. Finally the Old Skool Rave stylings of Dj John Lillis testified to an eye rubbing Xmas moment that was ‘ Ah...I'm in a tent in Birdhill, late on a Monday Night ’
Hardy Bucks on stage (photo by Paul Tarpey)
Robo Garda comes with warning (photo by Paul Tarpey)
Santa please (photo by Paul Tarpey)