Yesterday we went to Vowel Movement. It's a monthly gathering at Studio Z, where beatboxers from around the bay get to strut their stuff. Thankfully, for those of us who can only endure so much loud spitting before wondering what's on TV, Vowel Movement's definition of beatboxing is loose enough to include floutists, sampler effects and a nonplussing drum pantomime from the Big Tadoo Puppet Crew.*
The beatboxers varied in quality, but the real star of the show was Kid Beyond aka Andrew Chaikin. Az. and I had seen him before, at the Burning Man decompression party last year and in Bright River, a middling beatbox opera in which his performance was definitely the highlight.
This guy has SKILLS! If you live in the bay, you really should see him if you get the chance. In addition to exhibiting a complete mastery of the basics of beat boxing, he also plays around a lot with a portable sampler in order to create eerily vivid sound compositions using only samples of his voice. He built up huge waves of complex music, including sounds ranging from Heiko Laux filters to Jimi Hendrix. The entire audience was rapt.
Andrew also performed a few weeks ago at Emily's birthday party. We talked to him and it turns out he's obsessed with Scrabble, as is his brother Eric. Furthermore, Eric made a documentary based on Word Freak, this great book about the world of professional Scrabble players. I remember reading that book and thinking I'd like to see some of the people depicted, especially kooks like G.I. Joel. The documentary-- Word Wars-- is playing at the Roxie in June. You know I"ll be there!
* They noted after their set that they would performing at Earth Day or Green Day or some such hippie fest, and they were touring the country in a station wagon fueled by vegetable oil. Later, as we were heading towards Andy's car, we saw them hunched inside their converted wagon, turning over the engine repeatedly, no doubt wishing they'd bought a Prius.