Tom Thum – Beating the Habit

Brisbane Festival 2012

Tom Thum – Beating The Habit

Brisbane Festival

Visy Theatre, Powerhouse

11th September – 15th September 2012


Reviewed by Emilie Guillemain


“Get ruckus, get rowdy!”


I am constantly being blown away by the insane levels of talent and creativity that is being produced in Brisbane’s arts scene. Brisbane-based beat boxer, Tom Thum will have you mesmerised by his vocal capabilities, stylised movement, and charm throughout his 1-hour performance, Beating The Habit.

Entering the Visy Theatre, I had no idea what to expect from the show, but the loud and feel-good hip hop that was blaring over the speakers set the perfect tone for the audience, and for what was to come. There was a fun and boisterous vibe in the crowd. As the lights dimmed and the music faded, we hear Tom’s deep and engaging voice over the speaker introducing us to the show. He eventually appears on stage and bursts into a beat boxing frenzy, which stuns and excites the audience.

Thum explains that the only tools he is going to use on stage are live vocals, a microphone, and “kaoss pads”, which assist in recording his sounds and fusing them to create a musical track from scratch. His vocal capabilities can in no way be measured. This guy can not only beat box, he can sing, he can imitate a range of instruments (double-bass, drums, electric guitar, trumpet and trombone to name a few), and the every day sounds we hear that often fade into the background, he can emulate to perfection.

Tom Thum

Outside of those every day sounds, Thum discusses how frequently after a show people will approach him and ask if he can imitate sounds of a rather bizarre nature; a horse racing a car, a kitten imploding, a cat and dog fighting underwater, for example. He re-enacts the last one and the crowd erupts into laughter at the absurdity of the idea, and the fact that Thum seems to have the sound down to a T.

Musically, Thum touches on the genres of hip-hop, jazz, pop and blues. The performance is accompanied by stylised movement and a clever synchronisation of various shades of lighting. He dips in and out of a range of characters, pausing every now and again to address the audience and adapt personal story into his performance. He thrives off audience involvement, at one stage encouraging the crowd to “get ruckus, get rowdy”. Audience interaction was highly effective and as Thum says to the crowd, “Now, we’re going to get spitty and salivary together” – he splits the audience into thirds and designates each group with a particular sound. As the beat is slowly created, it comes together to form the backing track for Thum’s lyrics. If the crowd didn’t already feel like a part of the performance, this was sure to bring them to the heart of the stage.

Beating The Habit is a highly entertaining and enjoyable show that will change what you think you know about the human voice and its capabilities. Charged with talent, humour, creativity and funk – this is one Brisbane Festival performance you don’t want to miss.

Tom Thum

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