Terror at the rude, lewd Gang show

The Bloodhound Gang | Astoria, London Bebe Gilberto | Jazz Café, London
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The Independent Culture

Seeing as you're reading a paper that has a picture of an avant garde independent film on page three and not a topless model, I'm going to make the assumption that you don't have a puerile breast fixation and you probably don't find the Bloodhound Gang's Hooray for Boobies the most witty album title of all time, nor lines like "parking the beef bus in tuna town" the subtlest of euphemisms. Perhaps you even find song titles such as "A Lap Dance Is So Much Better when the Stripper Is Crying" or "I Wish I Was Queer So I Could Get Chicks" a little offensive. Still, it's good to know what the kids are listening to these days, and I'm going to try to convince you that seeing the Bloodhound Gang in concert can be an edifying experience.

Seeing as you're reading a paper that has a picture of an avant garde independent film on page three and not a topless model, I'm going to make the assumption that you don't have a puerile breast fixation and you probably don't find the Bloodhound Gang's Hooray for Boobies the most witty album title of all time, nor lines like "parking the beef bus in tuna town" the subtlest of euphemisms. Perhaps you even find song titles such as "A Lap Dance Is So Much Better when the Stripper Is Crying" or "I Wish I Was Queer So I Could Get Chicks" a little offensive. Still, it's good to know what the kids are listening to these days, and I'm going to try to convince you that seeing the Bloodhound Gang in concert can be an edifying experience.

Five well-educated twenty-somethings with an encyclopaedic knowledge of popular culture and hardcore porn, the Bloodhound Gang are current leaders of a pack of American groups, including Limp Bizkit, Kid Rock and Blink 192, successfully peddling a blend of heavy rock, rap and rude words. Although utterly childish, Hooray For Boobies actually has a substantial amount of wit, both lyrically and musically. But of course, none of it comes across in their live act.

Ever since the Beastie Boys convinced the world that jumping up and down and shouting very quickly can constitute a rap performance, few white rappers have deviated from their model, and the Gang's front man Jimmy Pop and his rapping cohort DJ Q-Ball are no exceptions. Meanwhile the other three band members just stick to the same stupidly loud guitar power-chord formula that every other American rock group has.

At one point Pop pulled someone out of the audience and got them to sing "Fire Water Burn" for him while he held up cue-cards - just one of a series of audience participation stunts that livened up the show. During "Three Point One Four" the band had 20 of the most scantily clad female audience members they could find writhing on stage with them, and they also offered an unfortunately large boy from Basildon the chance to win $100 by eating a bag of doner kebabs during the show. He failed the challenge, but for the five minutes before the encore, when he was the only thing on stage, he made a surreal form of entertainment, compelling in the same way as the Hopefuls used to be on The Word.

The Gang's show also includes a man dressed as Pacman, a bit of fire-breathing and a quick phone call to Pop's mother halfway through a song, as well as the usual stage-diving and reckless throwing of cymbals into the audience.

With his boundless energy and cheeky asides, Jimmy Pop is like a naughty child at a birthday party who keeps showing off until he gets overexcited and throws up. I mean that literally. As the show reached its climax with "The Bad Touch", Pop put his fingers down his throat and sprayed guitarist Evil Jared Hasselhoff with vomit. Then Hasselhoff vomited over Pop. They continued to do this for some time. "We wanna get on the cover of Kerrang!" explained Pop. Did I say edifying? I meant terrifying.

Bebel Gilberto was something of a child star in her native Brazil, but moved to New York in the early Nineties and now, at the age of 34, has released her debut album. At last she is emerging from the shadow of her father, the legendary bossa nova pioneer João Gilberto. Tanto Tempo (which translates as "So long") is a delightful album and the perfect soundtrack to an evening stroll along a Brazilian beach. It includes versions of four bossa nova classics and seven of her own compositions. But on all of them Bebel has created a contemporary twist on her father's music, relaxing the rhythms rather, but always keeping that swing. She has broadened the traditional style with the help of a few of contemporary electronica and hip-hop's best Brazilophile producers - Ninja Tune's Amon Tobin, Washington's down-tempo duo the Thievery Corporation and Beastie Boys producer Mario Caldato.

Her live set began with all the album's laid-back tunes. Backed by an acoustic guitar and some fabulously syncopated brushed drums, she eased her way into "Samba da Bençao" with a remarkably deep and sonorous voice for one so slight. Imagine Lauren Bacall's singing in To Have and Have Not, but with a Latin American sensuality instead of the jaded world-weariness. The fact that she seemed to have learnt her dance moves from the women on the Tales of the Unexpected credits only enhanced the smoke-filled lounge atmosphere.

But after "Lonely" (the hypnotic lullaby produced by Thievery Corporation) and the wistful "Samba e Amor" the tempo increased and, to her obvious delight, the crowd started responding to lines like, "the rhythm you hear will make you dance" with some frenzied foot-shuffling. And it was on these more traditionally arranged bossa nova and samba numbers that the true versatility of her voice emerged. Soaring, sustained notes would end with mellifluous cadences and then her voice would become a percussion instrument, filling in the gaps with sharp breaths, the sound of bubbles popping or a kind of scatting.

Although it felt like "The Girl from Ipinema" was only ever just around the corner, it never did come, and Bebel deserves to be recognised as a fresh and unique talent, building on rather than recycling her musical inheritance.

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