In Defence of Hipsters
Cobi Smith @ La Bohème
10:00pm, Sat 2 Mar 2013
Me and hipsters, we’re not alike. I’m out of the normal hipster age-bracket, for one, and I’ve always associated hipsters with fixies… and fixies can fuck right off. There, I’ve said it. My hat is in the fixie political ring.
But, paranoid pessimist that I am, I’m always a little concerned that I’ve got things wrong… that maybe, in this case, my – distrust? snideness? – towards hipsters is undeserved. So, upon seeing the title of this show, I figured “why not – let’s educate myself.”
La Bohème had a really weird… well, unexpected vibe when I arrived. I’m used to the Friends-and-Family mood that permeates some shows, but this felt much more like a party where everyone knew each other – and, awkwardly enough, where I knew no-one. So when Cobi Smith – cute as a button and bubbly and with a huge generous smile – takes to the stage and announces that, at the strike of midnight, it will be her thirtieth birthday, it kinda made sense.
But I still felt like I was a stranger at someone else’s party.
Smith lamented her impending milestone – oh, you kids! – and mused on how this was the age at which she was expected to settle down… and then leapt into enthusiastic detail as to her upcoming work and travel plans (her personal and professional accomplishments are ridiculously enviable, having travelled the world and worked as a journalist, researcher, and translator). But she went on to describe the self-actualisation that occurred when she discovered that she was, by her own classification, a hipster.
Not a lot of evidence was given to back up her discovery; she left that to her friends, who essentially performed birthday speeches. Emily Steel spoke of Cobi’s love of crochet; Simon Pampena recounted tales of recyclables and bamboo toothbrushes. More friends spoke of her love of obscure music (yes, obscure even in Canberra), of drunken handbag shopping, of lazy board games, of Scrabble tile badges. Then a clutch of friends were dragged up onstage to improvise a scene from Smith’s life; it was a rabble, descending into a gaggle of laughter, but most of the crowd thought it was hilarious.
And that encapsulates the show as a whole, really. I could never shake the feeling that I had walked in on someone else’s party, like a friend of a friend of a friend of someone I didn’t know that well. And whilst Cobi comes across as incredibly likeable, I had no real connection to her: whilst others in the crowd could cackle about sideways references to That Time At That Party, it’s meaningless to me. I’m sure it was a great birthday bash for her, though.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) March 2, 2013