On Sunday the 5th of November, gangsta-rap demigod Freddie Gibbs blessed Dublin rap fans with an emphatic hour-long performance in the sold-out Button Factory.
It was turning 9:30 as I shouldered my way through the sweaty throngs of excited Gibbs groupies to find a good spot to watch the show. The supporting acts had just finished up, so while DJ Ralph prepared for the set, fans streamed to the bar for a last-minute drink. As Matthew and I searched for a space, I looked up to the balcony which was overflowing with rabid Freddie devotees. Relieved we were not the only rap-nerds in attendance, proudly sporting our Gibbs album-cover tees, we found a spot on the left-hand of the stage just as all the lights in the venue went out.
As the crowd cheered, DJ Ralph began hyping us up, inciting us to illuminate the stage with our phone torches in anticipation. We heard the guitar solo and twinkling piano intro of ‘Crime Pays’ begin as the Indiana rapper burst on to the stage to thunderous praise, lit up by hundreds of phone lights. With no more fanfare, Gibbs launched hungrily into his performance.
I felt myself swept along by the swarm of deliriously happy Gibbs fans as he performed banger after banger from his extensive discography. As one sweating, heaving entity we sang along to hits like ‘Thuggin’, ‘Deeper’, and ‘Harold’s’, while animated visuals of Hollywood in flames were projected onto the on-stage screen.
As the night went on, I couldn’t help thinking of the event as a rap concert meets slam poetry gig. Gibbs breathlessly performed numerous deep cuts acapella, highlighting that Bandana isn’t just excellent because of veteran producer Madlib. The crowd watched in awe as Gibbs was one moment a vision of cool, controlled composure and the next spewing an energetic barrage of couplets and rhymes. In one surreal moment, the audience provided a backing track, chanting “ay! ay! ay-ay-ay!”, while the hardened rapper spat rhymes over it.
Late in the show the main lights dipped again, red strobe lights streamed from the stage and a bone-shaking bassline burst from the speakers. The crowd rallied their energy once more as Gibbs performed ‘Automatic’, ‘Death Row’, and ‘Triple Threat’, while mosh-pits erupted in the crowd before him.
Gibbs ended the night where he began, with a vigorous rendition of ‘Crime Pays’, before leaving us to stumble into the cold Sunday night sweaty, exhausted, and elated.
Nicholas Lane – Music Writer