One of the nice things about writing for Cracked is the occasional contact with celebrities. The cease and desist letter from David Bowie's lawyers calling my constant references to him "borderline creepy" was certainly a thrill, but last week, something even better happened. I got a call from Blindboyboatclub of the Irish band Rubberbandits informing me that they were coming to New York for a gig. Loyal Cracked readers will remember that the Bandits secured the top spot in one of my previous columns about misunderstood satirists for their "Horse Outside" video. Subsequently, Blindboy and I struck up a friendship even though, unlike the Bandits, I don't ride horses, appear on television or huff bags of glue.
"We're playing New York," he said. Or at least I assumed that's what he said. The Limerick accent was still difficult for me to comprehend, as my familiarity with Irish dialects was based mostly on leprechauns of the Warwick Davis and Lucky Charms variety.
Mr. Davis spent over 300 hours with a dialect coach in order to perfect what is known in the business as "The McNoOneTalksLikeThis Brogue."
"You're gonna show us 'round," he continued. "I wanna see if a sidewalk and a footpath are different things. I want to drink a 40, I want to get into a fight with my Puerto Rican girlfriend while she throws my clothes out the window onto the street below."
"You have a Puerto Rican girlfriend?" I asked.
"No, not yet, but I won't be there for another few hours so see if you can hook that up. Least you can do considering the mad groupie gash I'm gonna be throwing at you."
I set down the phone and prepared to do all the things I needed to get ready for a night of drunken hijinks. Specifically, I asked my wife's permission.
"Rubberbandits," she said. "Aren't those the hooligans who got you so drunk nine months ago that you lost your phone and spent the whole next day puking?"
"No. I just got drunk near them. To tell you the truth, I was already lit with those ne'er-do-wells BriTANick by the time I even met the Bandits. Really. Much like incurable disease and poverty, it's all BriTANick's fault."
BriTANick moments before they torture your kitten.
Maybe due to my crafty lie (after all, BriTANick is responsible only for disease) or because she was glad to get me out of the house, my wife gave me the green light for a boy's night out and even set up a nice bed of pillows and comforters on the couch so I wouldn't wake her with 3 a.m. drunkenness.
Having cleared my night, I next had to pick my wardrobe. I struggled to find fashion that was capable of both accenting my international website columnist credentials and masking my "blogger's gut." I opted for the always safe button-down shirt and jeans combination, and caught my train into the big city. It had been so long since I'd been out on a Saturday night. All the young female receptionists and IT geeks from my work week had apparently spent the afternoon in emo chrysalises that allowed them to emerge as Saturday night goth princesses or steampunk divas or whatever the current terminology is for someone who wears black and makes me think about deviant sex. And the men, well, I'm sure there were men in the city, too. I didn't notice.
"Yes, fathers are a chronic, bitter disappointment, aren't they?"
The black-clad youth milled around outside the Bowery Ballroom smoking cigarettes and feigning sadness. That's when I realized I'd given the cabbie the wrong address, because I was actually supposed to be at the Mercury Lounge, blocks away. A second cab ride and moments later, I found a more earnest and Irish crowd filling the bar.
Unfortunately, the Azkaban Tormenter working the door told me the Bandits had failed to leave a guest list. I looked down at her crooked mouth of misery, wondering what to do, but just then I heard the door behind me open and I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was Blindboy and the largest Chinese dude I've ever seen.
"Jaysus!" he said to the troll woman. "That's Gladstone! He's with me."
She quickly stamped my hand. "Sorry, I just assumed he was a narc."
No sooner was I in the venue than I was whisked downstairs to a private underground party area containing lots of PBR, some girls and more Chinese dudes.
"Sorry I was late," Blindboy said. "I was at the Statue of Liberty. Bit shit, isn't it? Tupac's not even buried there."
One of the large Chinese dudes handed me a PBR.
"Um, yeah. So are these guys your friends?" I asked.
"Ya, Triads," he said. Gas bastards altogether. We met in Chinatown and offered them a job doing security. Can't be too safe in the crazy world of gangsta rap."
Pictured above: One of the bodyguards posing with his 6-foot-5-inch wife.
"Is that why you wear those bags?" I asked.
"A bit. You saw the news, right? Jay-Z clearly had Whitney Houston assassinated to make room in the Illuminati for his baby with Beyonce!"
Just then, Blindboy's counterpart, Mr. Chrome, entered, reeking of ecstasy and good cheer and dragging some dude who'd driven seven hours from Rochester to see the show. But an even more impressive display of fandom was the man's "Spastic Hawk" tattoo -- an image from a Bandit's song only a few months old.
Sign of true fandom or mental illness?
"Are you insane?" I asked him. "It's too soon for a tat. The song just came out. You need perspective. Some time to figure out if it's "Let It Be" or "Octopus' Garden."
There was a silence as the fan slunk away. Apparently, in one thought I'd managed to simultaneously insult both the performers by likening their song to a possible Ringo composition and the fan who had already committed his devotion to permanent ink.
"Who the fuck is this?" Chrome asked.
"I told you. It's Gladstone from Cracked.com." Blindboy answered.
Through the holes in his Tesco bag, I could tell that Chrome was not amused.
"Blindboy, Cracked's got an O'Brien, another O'Brien, a Reilly, a McGinley and a McKinney. Why the fuck are we drinking with the site's only Jew?"
"That really is a fair question," I said. "And here's another -- why are two Irish guys drinking PBRs?"
"In Ireland this stuff is an imported delicacy served in hipster bars for about 7 euros. I can't believe it flows cheaply on tap over here."
"That's because it's crap. That's the whole point. Hipsters drink it because it sucks."
"Well, then here ya go, Gladstone," Blindboy said, handing me the bottle of 12-year-old Jameson Irish Whiskey. "Maybe if you get a few shots of this into you you'll stop acting like a tight-arsed gowl."
Just then, a flash didn't go off because no one took a picture. (Fortunately, much later, we employed an acting technique I like to call "sucking" and recreated the moment.)
And it looked a lot like nothing resembling this.
The boys took the stage and I whipped out my phone, capturing some of the worst, most unusable footage ever recorded. So to help recreate the experience, I'll just tell you they tore up the place up with a new single, "Black Man," while the following video played behind them:
Personally, I think if they'd filmed it in New York instead of Ireland, I could have rocked the "nervous Jew" role. At the very least, I could have brought my own yarmulke instead of the woman's shoulder pad they apparently glued to some poor gentile's head.
Backstage, after the show, the boys were getting changed in a hurry.
"Great show, guys," I said, "but what's the rush?"
"Chrome got invited to some hipster party in Williamsburg. Get your stuff, we're going. An opportunity to see hipsters in their natural habitat happens once in a lifetime."
"Get the fuck out. Some random hipster saw you and invited you to a party without even knowing you were famous back home?"
"Well," Chrome said, "between the accent and the bag on my head, I'm a pretty attractive guest to an American hipster."
"You're basically going to be human PBR tonight."
Before we left, I got a chance to document how happy the Bandits were to be hanging with me.