It was somewhere around 11.15pm on a Tuesday night when it was revealed to me that Darren Foreman/Beardyman would not be gracing the good soundsystem stage of Fortune until 12:30am. Now, I love me a good club night, don’t get me wrong. I have been known to come home late the next day, worse for wear and gurning like a loon. I understand why bars want to keep you there, drinking and parting with your wallet contents. But I do not love me a live gig that’s billed for a Tuesday and starts on a Wednesday.
So by the time London’s most awesome beatboxer – one of the best in the world – and live looper Beardyman loped on, the audience was completely munted. And I was ready to ram my head against a spike. Assoholes lurched in the front row, braying at each other and everyone around ‘em, girls pushed past each other, and some fucker kept pinching me. This gig was rapidly approach its well-past-its-sell-by-date for enjoyment. Even Beardy rapped about the American Apparel-clad students falling over each other.
But nevermind. Let’s talk Beardyman. Late or not, he’s incredible. His mouth is a science and his performance is about rhythms and beats expertly and technically looped over each other, while he also stitches in hardcore drum and bass and techno. The dude is proficient, and scary amazing in his skill. The dark fuzz version of Prodigy’s “Smack My Bitch Up” and a hell-yeah funny take on Snow’s “The Informer” were both ace. He was high energy.
But it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. And it wasn’t quite what I wanted. Beardyman’s shows elsewhere have been more actual beatboxing and comedy performance. But tonight, I felt like I was watching a DJ. A rad DJ, but a DJ nonetheless. The heavy-duty effects – while impressive – made the performance feel less organic. He sounded great. He looked great. And the students with nothing to do in the morning totally danced great. But to me, it felt too altered, too produced. Step away from the knobs, Beardyman, I wants to hear yo’ voice. That’s where the magic is, man. More, please. \m/
BSR NOTE: This review comes following discussions with the event’s promoters in which they offered me a free ticket in exchange for watermarking my photos with their logo and only reviewing the show “in its best possible light”. I feel like I have reflected the show in its best possible light. However, I was uncomfortable doing their marketing for them by adding watermarks, nor could I commit to a positive review until I’d actually seen the performance. In the end, BSR is about honesty and integrity and it’s all I’ve got. So I bought my own ticket, and took my own shots. Hope you enjoy.
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