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Hannibal Buress @ Hamer Hall

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Pandering can be a difficult art. It’s inherently cheap, but often an irresistible ploy. Hannibal Buress sometimes opened the US stops of his ‘Hannibal Montanabal’ tour by doing the opposite: playing footage of Chicago teams destroying the hometown teams of the respective tour leg before taking the stage. But tonight in Melbourne, support DJ Tony Trimm did pander, playing clips from The Castle set to A$AP Rocky, the iconic Scott and Charlene wedding scene from Neighbours set to UGK and OutKast’s Intl. Players Anthem. This isn’t no “shrimp on the barbie” level pastiche. They know their shit.
 
Hannibal launched into some more arcane pandering, detailing his struggles with Sydney’s lockout laws the nights previous. It set the tone for the evening: observations relayed in a refined, relatable manner, dipping toes into more dangerous territory (tempered by Hannibal’s relaxed overall relaxed understated delivery), and a latent self-awareness that bubbles to the fore in key beats.
 
Hamer Hall is a big room (a lot bigger than the rooms Eric Andre will play, who Hannibal acts as sidekick on The Eric Andre Show, as he notes at the tail end of tonight), and Hannibal works it like an intimate bar for the most part, the explosion into hip hop bombast proving a potent dynamic. The section covering trends in rap lyrics runs the risk of isolating non rap-heads, but the ridiculousness of it all becomes universal. A look at Nelly’s hummed intro to Country Grammar falls flat, but is stretched out into absurdity with interplay with DJ Tony Trimm till it hits the mark.
 
Hannibal shies away from extreme absurdity, which aids the impact of the closing run-through of Gibberish Rap, which comes largely without warning – the kind of bit that most acts would wait for an encore begging from the audience. It’s given some Kanye-esque ballet dancers. It’s very silly, and very good.
 
Mining a niche with wide appeal, Hannibal relishes comfort in a show that’s self-aware, and a little bit shameless. The result is a subdued form of brilliant.
 
By Lachlan Kanoniuk