I Can has a Cheezburger
Weaving through the packed Middle East upstairs Friday night was not quite like gallivanting, IRL, through the “Most Viewed” page on YouTube — neither the Evolution of Dance dude nor the laughing baby was in attendance — but it was a surreal gathering of Internet video celebrities nonetheless. It was “The Music Show of the Memes,” the concert to celebrate the opening of ROFLCon (a conference of experts on Internet stardom and I Can Has Cheezburger). The memes were indeed out in full force.
One moment, Denny Blaze, who achieved meme-dom with his goofy, grainy “Average Homeboy” video demos in 2006, is handing me his business card and explaining (in ironic sotto voce for a rapper) that he made most of the videos in the ’80s, “before YouTube and before CDs,” with a hint of awe that such a time ever existed. Next, I’m hovering near “Tron Guy,” a mustachio’d man bedecked in glowing blue lights that are affixed to knee pads, a helmet, and a Frisbee — providing excellent illumination for mid-show note taking, along with the camera flashes beaming from every corner of the room.
Indeed, it seems everyone has brought along a camera or an iPhone and is incessantly snapping photos, especially when Leslie Hall (the queen of parodic white-girl rap) strides on stage like Internet royalty, reigning over the fawning crowd in gold spandex and thick glasses, with her ladies-in-waiting the LY’s flanking her in bedazzled sweaters. “Thank you, fellow Internet people,” Hall squawks, sweat glistening on her forehead during a fleeting break from her feverish dancing and just before belting “Zombie Killer” — a utilitarian song instructing us, should we ever encounter zombies, to “shoot them in the brain.”
The final act, Group X, the faux Arab rap crew known best for animated clips like “Bang Bang Bang,” has a bearded Ben Romans (from the Click Five!) playing a Hendrix-style keytar cover of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The crowd wanes thereafter, with Group X attempting Borat-style humor with mildly offensive jokes about AIDS, the Holocaust and 9/11, dropping forgettable rhymes, and perhaps longing inside for the DJ to oust them by blasting Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Rick Rolling made real before our eyes? This truly was a special night.