Airing too much dirty laundry ... Bloodhound Gang bassist Jared Hasselhoff pulls the Russian flag through his pants onstage in the Ukraine. Photo: YouTube
As Pussy Riot know, you don't mess with national symbols in the new Russia. New York band the Bloodhound Gang – who once sang “the roof, the roof is on fire” – found their Russian concerts cancelled, their invitation to stay in the country rescinded and their bus pelted with eggs and tomatoes at the weekend after an onstage incident in neighbouring Ukraine.
While performing in the Ukrainian city of Odessa last week, the Gang's bass player, Jared Hasselhoff, put the Russian flag down the front of his pants and then pulled it through the back. According to reports, Hasselhoff, who possibly presciently goes by the name Evil, joked with the audience “Don't tell Putin”.
The problem is, while Ukrainians have a complex relationship with their neighbours and one-time rulers that might have seen many of them treat the incident as a joke, a YouTube post of the incident reached the Russian authorities – and they weren't laughing. The Russian minister of culture tweeted "these idiots are not going to perform" in his country and reportedly pressured local authorities to halt the band's next shows.
The Bloodhound Gang by this time were in the southern Russian city of Anapa and when news got out of their trip to Moscow to make a connecting flight out of the country, their bus was attacked with flying food and invective on the way to the airport.
Not overly fond of dissent, the Russian government may be more sensitive to real or implied criticism by visiting performers from the West since Madonna last year spoke up in defence of both gay rights and the jailed Russian punk group Pussy Riot.
Two of the three Pussy Riot members remain in jail after being denied parole last week for convictions related to a performance in a Russian church in 2012 where they asked the Virgin Mary to “send Putin packing”.
In words that might have given Bloodhound Gang members pause for thought, if they read the papers that is, one of the two detained Pussy Riot members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, described the style of “the Putin regime” as “a conservative, secret-police aesthetic”.