31st October | Thekla
Photos: Lee Ramsey
All Hallows Eve, and what better way to spend your night than with the multi-talented, eccentric-personality-permeating wunderkind, Beardyman. Setting up shop, deep within the bowels of Bristol’s famous Thekla this apex of the spookiest season was always set to be a fantastic romp amongst the furthest reaches of the entertainment spectrum. Though with a clear energy and infectious optimism, Darren Foreman orchestrated an evening that eclipsed even the most positive of expectations.
Fantastically apparent and unapologetically present is Beardyman’s inherent ability to project his optimistic and addictively positive personality into his work. I guess it comes hand in hand with the artistic compass the man chooses to follow. Primarily comedic beat-box-based musical tapestries must possess an element of mania to truly blossom away from the abstract form they inhabit.
As the dimly-lit cavern began to swell with the presence of a sold-out crowd, the anticipation was truly palpable. Costumes and hedonism at full swing, Foreman took to stage amidst the technicoloured lighting of his array of futuristic equipment. It’s Beardyman’s vast collection of synths and audio modules that hold both the key to his musical prowess and occasionally the thorn in his foot.
With a few slight technical hiccups, there was a fear of audio issues plaguing this set. However, years as the Internet’s most comical sonic nerd seemed to vanquish these elements of worry, as Foreman provided a little on-the-fly tech support amongst his guttural loops of 00s dubstep beats. Somehow using only his vocal cords and perfectly-timed looping progressions, Beardyman took the crowd on an eclectic voyage through heavy drum and bass rhythms and haunting trip-hop passages – incredibly fitting for the Bristolian crowd.
African and Asian influences began to bubble and flow into the night’s mix, providing a visceral counterpoint to the heavily British underground, electronica-styled compositions that defined both the earlier parts of this set and Foreman’s reputation as a whole. Hypnotic slices of percussion forced their way into the air as an intoxicating cloud, sliced in two by the sheer magnitude of this artist’s vocal capabilities. It was honestly a wonder to witness the incredibly dynamic range of sounds and rhythms this man is capable of creating with just his mouth and a few pieces of technology.
Chaos and unpredictability stand as pillars to a Beardyman set and tonight was no different. The manic switches from high-tempo grit to arguably floral twitches of world influence left the crowd wholly unable to predict his next move, though this is exactly where this act shines brightest. This was an entertainment experience so far detached from your usual, predictable setlist that it almost felt like neither a gig nor a DJ set at all. Watching the man smirk and grin as he consistently knocked the crowd off of their feet proved that this is his grand design and, God, is it satisfying.
See the video for ‘6AM (Ready To Write)’ (feat. Joe Rogan) here: