Ur Boy Bangs (Melbourne)
w/ Declaration AD (Wellington) and FLYBZ (Melbourne)
Thursday 27 November 2014
Sudanese born Ajak Chol, best known by his stage name Bangs, moved to Australia in 2003 and took to building his rap career with great gusto.
Bangs achieved internet notoriety in 2009 with his viral hit “Take U To Da Movies”. At the time of writing the YouTube clip has had 9.7 million views. Honda even commissioned Bangs to help them promote their Jazz range of cars. Bangs was also prolific on the social media. He had so many followers on Facebook that he reached the limit and had to create a secondary account.
The reason for this is because his music was so bad. The lyrics didn’t flow, the beats weren’t catchy. His music videos contained plenty of badly green-screened backgrounds like maps of Sudan and Australia, and pictures of cash and sports cars. His attempts at wooing girls by calling them “Shawty” and offering to take them “to da movies”, or chat to them on “the Facebook” were hilarious. So people showed the funny videos to their friends, who in turn show the video to their other friends, and so on.
A rapper who gains worldwide publicity and fame from one song because of how bad it is. Welcome to the internet age.
Since then this has become common practice, things that are bad or unusual going viral. Take Sharknado or Gangnam Style, for instance.
Last time Bangs played in Wellington I decided it wasn’t worth attending. This was mainly because the show started at 10pm, plus there were a number of opening acts, meaning that Bangs probably wouldn’t have even come on until close to midnight. I wasn’t willing to pay $20 and stay up so late on a school night just to see an internet joke in the flesh.
But this time Bangs has announced a last-minute all ages show, two days before playing. This suits me fine because it means I won’t have to stay up so late to watch him.
The joke gets even funnier with the announcement of the opening act: local hardcore band Declaration AD. I was living with Declaration guitarist Kirk Hogson in 2010 and I’m pretty sure it was he who showed me Bang’s video in the first place. Original Declaration bass player Tom White spent a lot of time pestering Bangs over Facebook. I bet he still has a screenshot saved on his computer saying “BStar Bangs likes Declaration AD”. They joked about it at the time, but I don’t think anyone actually expected that they would get to share a stage with Bangs.
Declaration AD were on form, even with their former bass player filling in at last minute’s notice. They’ve just been in the studio putting the finishing touches on their fourth release, so not doubt performing live would be a pleasure after recording in a sterile studio environment. They’re well-known at Zeal so enough of the audience knew what to expect, but it was pretty amusing seeing the shock on the faces of the others present. Imagine young kids showing up to the show expecting to see an internet sensation from five years ago, and instead having four hairy men playing loud hardcore music and shouting at them.
The turn out was fairly small. Most people present were Zeal volunteers or friends with the boys from Declaration AD. But there were 20 or so others who had shown up to just to see Bangs. I’m surprised at how many young teenagers even remember who Bangs is. If most of the people in the audience are underage, it means they would have been roughly 12 when Bangs was at the peak of his hype.
The second act was another Melbourne based rapper named FLYBZ. FLYBZ was a former child soldier from the African nation of Burundi. He surprised us by being quite good. He worked the crowd and got us dancing and singing along. He even asked one boy from the audience to come onstage and help him by sing the chorus for a song about equality. It was funny how when he decided that a song was finished, FLYBZ would reach over to his laptop and stop the music abruptly, instead of having an outro.
FLYBZ also took over DJ duties and backing vocals for the star of the night, Ur Boi Bangs.
Bangs’ set almost had a linear narrative. He rapped about how his life is hard because he comes from the ghetto. But no matter what you have to keep your mind right. He had a song ready for each point he made. Then he taught us the process for courting a woman. “First you need to meet her somewhere” he told us, before playing “Meet Me On Facebook”. Once you’ve met her you take her shopping. Then you take her “for a deena!” [Dinner]. There was a song about Christmas that interrupted the musical date that Bang’s was taking us on. And of course, he finished with the obligatory “Take U To Da Movies”.
Was it worth going? I’ve seen bands that I expected to be bad before for the sake of a joke. Guitar Wolf can barely be classed as musicians, yet I’ve seen them play twice and both times the performances were amazing.
Bangs doesn’t seem to mind the haters. He gave us a speech about it before performing his song “Hi Haters”
“Haters make you famous. If you can’t love your haters you can’t love yourself”
– Ur Boi Bangs
He’s like Tommy Wiseau, the man behind The Room (widely regarded as one of the worst films ever made). His product may be terrible, but it has earned him fame and a cult following so why fight it?
I expected Bangs to suck. I went for one famous song that seemed like a joke. I went to see how everyone would react. I went to see Declaration AD scare children. I went for the nostalgia, because we all thought it would be so exciting to see Bangs when he was all the rage back in 2010.
Bangs surpassed my expectations. It was actually an amazing night. Everybody was having so much fun singing and dancing along and waving their hands in the air. There was crowd surfing and stage diving. I think the Snapchat and Instagram headquarters much have been under extra stress based on the sheer volume of selfies that people in the crowd were taking.
I’m glad the show was cheap. I’m glad that it didn’t run late. And I’m especially glad that I went.