Edinburgh Festival Fringe cabaret review: The Gideon & Hubcap Show, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Ben Walters.
New York “stove-top folk troubadours” Gideon & Hubcap normally perform in people’s homes and there’s something of the front room about their set-up in the Underbelly’s Wee Coo space. Cluttered with unusual instruments, fairy lights and bizarre props and illustrations, it’s an apt setting for a curious but irresistibly infectious cocktail of music, storytelling and goofy humour that really makes you feel at home.
The pair are Jewish New Yorkers, old schoolfriends with a shared passion for offbeat folk music: Gideon is easygoing and mildly scruffy, Hubcap more spruce and academic, as befits a musicologist. The subjects of their irreverent self-penned songs range from friendship to sexual safewords and evoke an old-timey combo of hobo caterwauling, yodelling and close-harmony serenading. The tone is jokey and knockabout, regularly punctuated by daft sight gags or Three Stooges-style rough-housing, but the musicianship is first rate. As well as their rich, complementary voices, the pair are impressive on accordion, harmonium, banjo, musical saw and kazoo. There’s also a terrific body-percussion number.
Just as important is the ambience they create – a kind of casual chatty vibe laced with arch humour and low-level neurosis. There are gags about the strains that travelling for work all the time can place on a friendship, which are presumably rooted in real life, but the overwhelming sense is of a couple of devoted buddies having fun together doing something they love and are good at.
Those with a low tolerance for the accoutrements of Brooklyn hipsterism might balk at certain cutesy-cool elements: a bit of origami shtick, a running gag involving advertising jingles for a sponsor that purveys edible insects, a smattering of superfluous hardware tools. But by the time of the final singalong, with bizarre instruments distributed throughout the audience, only the toughest of cookies wouldn’t be feeling the love.
Underbelly, George Square (Venue 300) until 23 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 18 August 2015
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