“There are no words to describe it.” This is the reaction of Ed, one young audience member immediately after Shlomo’s Human Geekbox performance at Spark Arts for Children festival. Words will need to be found though as this is a review after all, however, this sums up how Shlomo’s ‘mouth orchestra’ makes such a stunning impact.
Inspired by a childhood rule of not being allowed to practise on his drum kit after 6pm to avoid annoying the neighbours and combined with a childhood dream of appearing on Top of the Pops, Shlomo discovered his voice could be his drumkit. Many hours spent experimenting with vocal effects led to entering and winning the World Beatbox Championship at his first attempt. Shlomo has since worked with a variety of performers including Bjork, Ed Sheeran and Damon Albarn and now makes regular appearances on the festival circuit being as loud as he likes well after 6pm.
Shlomo’s tagline of Human Geekbox is perfect – his on stage chat is relatively quiet and unassuming, still seeming a little amazed that he now does what he does for a living. Give the man a mic and a looping machine though and he is possessed by a darker force, wizard of a wall of sound conducting his own voice: a throbbing bass, a high hat with snare on the side and choir of angelic voices – all at the same time!
The transformation from geek to beatbox god is astounding; Shlomo’s rendition of Dub Be Good To Me giving Fatboy Slim a masterclass in creativity. Shlomo makes his own music as well as covering well known songs, whatever he does though is fascinating to witness just what the human voice can do (with a little help from technology).
Whilst this show was for children, its appeal is universal such is the effect of Shlomo’s phonetic pyrotechnics. The show was preceded by a workshop which had clearly been great fun for the young participants, judging by their enthusiastic performance of their own newly acquired beatboxing skills.
A big cheer to strict parents imposing rules if this is what it inspires.
(thanks to Aiden, Ed, Dom and Kate for their comments after the show)
Spark Arts for Children festival is from 19 May to 1 June