FAC went to the Irish Beatbox Championships to see how a relatively obscure scene has grown into a thriving community full of energy and talent.
FAC checked out the Irish Beatbox Championships 2017 to see what was up. We found a night filled with heavy bass, rapid percussion and serious talent. Armed with only a microphone and their vocal chords, the competing beatboxers put on a show of acoustic energy and sharpened skill. By the time the final battle was over, the crowd was exhausted but invigorated. There is a sense of momentum in this community, as if they know they are part of a growing culture that doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
Packed from wall to wall, the Soundhouse (upstairs in The Wiley Fox) was filled with people from all walks of life. There is clearly an interest in beatbox in many areas of Ireland, from Cork to Dublin. All these people turned out to enjoy the night, thanks to the hard work of the organisers, the Irish Beatbox Association.
Not so long ago, Beatboxing in Ireland was a few people dotted across the country, watching YouTube videos and explaining the concept to their mates. In 2011, one of the original Irish beatboxers - White Noise - brought many of the community together in Dublin for the first time. He attended this year’s championships and was no doubt proud and excited to witness the scale of the event and the skill on show.
From a handful of people around the country to a nationwide championship with 25 competitors, 3 international judges, major sponsors and a full capacity venue, this scene has grown immensely in a short period of time. It’s fantastic to see the growth of a culture like beatbox in Ireland. Everyone should have something they are truly passionate about, and if the scene isn’t there, go build it.
The structure of the competition went like this. 25 entrants, each with 2 minutes to impress the judges and excite the crowd. After this preliminary round, there were a series of knockout battles. These battles involved the beatboxers taking turns to unleash a quickfire torrent of their vocal talents in an attempt to defeat their opponent. The judges, Beatfox, B-Art and Thorsen then decided who proceeded to the next round.
The quarter finals included an especially rowdy battle between Meek (read an interview with him here) and Amaron. In the semis we had CalFx vs Doppler (some Dublin vs Cork rivalry) and Meek vs Magic, the reigning champion. The intensity of the battles and the skill of the beatboxers was incredible to experience. At its best, beatboxing is a blend of surprisingly melodic covers, unexpected bass drops, and impeccable rhythm. At times, the sounds made by a human mouth were unbelievable.
Magic defeated Doppler in the final to retain his crown as Irish Beatbox Champion. He’ll go on to represent Ireland at the World Champs. After the final, we were treated to a loop-station gig by Thorsen, which was real impressive. Using pre-recorded vocal samples and his live voice, he constructed an entirely acapella musical performance. The potential for the evolution of beatbox is colossal.
The Irish Beatbox Association have plans to organise more events in the future, such as club nights featuring loop station artists like Thorsen, workshops for kids interested in beatboxing, and maybe a family friendly competition sometime early next year. Their goal is to generate interest in beatboxing and make it known as music to the public.
Keep an eye on FAC for more on Irish beatbox.
Images courtesy of Krystian Lyson/Irish Beatbox Championships