WAF Young Reviewer - Beatbox mastery from two legends

30th June 2021

By Pen Hughes

If, like me, you've been beatboxing or following the subculture for any period of time, The Beatbox Collective is one of the names you just have to know - they're the 2015 World Beatbox Crew Champions; Hobbit and MC Zani, the two representing the group in this concert, are both also UK champs and legends.

The Magic Garden Pub interior is an intimate venue; my first impressions when the pair jumped straight into the beats was that they perhaps overpitched it to such a small audience, shouting ‘Make some Nooooiiize’ every five seconds akin to at a stadium show, but they quickly adjusted. As we found out later, this was their first show for 15 months, so they are duly forgiven.

They began with an extended drum freestyle, showing what beatboxing is, before moving into individual sets. MC Zani's showcase perfectly demonstrated the importance of simplicity and robust fundamental sounds, especially to an audience of non-beatboxers - my dad’s reaction showed that he’d pitched it just right. My only disappointment was that he switched between various grooves with next to no transition - I felt taking some ideas and developing them to fill the whole set could have taken it to the next level. That was where Hobbit’s showcase really shone - after a comedic start, imitating machine noises with accompanying dial-turning gestures, he performed a series of more recognisable tracks, including ‘Sweet Dreams’ by the Eurythmics, which allowed the audience to sing along. While each of them beatboxed and worked the stage, the other was constantly leading the crowd in cheers - you could tell they were seasoned performers. They then took audience requests for TV theme tunes and a genre to perform them in - a personal highlight was a Drum-’n’-Bass version of The Simpsons theme tune.

After an interval, Hobbit performed two tracks with the loopstation (a machine for layering beatbox and singing in real time). This again was a testament to how good simple things performed well can be. These two were followed by a ‘scratch back-’n’-forth’, where they took turns providing a beat for the other to imitate record scratch over - need I tell you they sounded exactly like the real thing?

However, the most exciting part of the night for me came when they out of the blue invited me up on stage to jam with them. I’d introduced myself before the show as an amateur beatboxer, so they took a massive risk trusting me to keep up with them, but it was hands-down one of the best experiences of my life.

This goes to show that as well as amazing performers both Hobbit and MC Zani are incredibly kind and lovely people. They then asked a local reggae singer, Deemas J, up to jam with them, before finishing off with some more DnB beats.

Overall this was an incredible evening, not just for myself, but the audience’s reactions showed that this was an amazing show for non-beatboxers too. They demonstrated beatbox at its finest and I would absolutely recommend you go and see them if you can.

If you’re interested, you can see Hobbit’s first track here: