Tom Thum kicks off this night with a showcase of his skills. He flips through his catalogue of sounds and internalised instruments with fast switches from sub-bass-like drones to rimshot snare hits and whistle tones. The children in the audience, in particular, let out shouts of amazement.

The show’s music is all created live with Thum’s beatboxing, Jamie MacDowell’s guitar and vocals, a sampler and loop machines. MacDowell plays his sampler like a piano with impressive dexterity across its pads. Even the audience members themselves become an instrument, with their voices used to layer dense chords as a “human sample orchestra”.

It is obviously an enjoyable partnership between the long-time collaborators, and there is a lot of play in the creation and performance of each song. Perhaps one of the most engaging things about the duo is the way their style encompasses influences from a number of different genres: hip-hop, rap, jazz, pop and country elements all make an appearance in some form.

Between the sampler, looper and Thum, there are times where it is genuinely hard to tell where each noise is coming from. Whether it’s him taking the microphone to his neck or thumping his own chest, Thum almost takes on the character of each instrument he is emulating.

There are also a few surprisingly comic touches that land well with this night’s crowd.

MacDowell and Thum are each given solo moments to perform their own songs. MacDowell’s original song “Brother” provides a surprisingly delicate moment, while Thum’s solo tune “Don’t You Back on Me” reflects on his journey from intense popularity to relative obscurity.

A highlight is their cover of Allen Stone’s “Bed I Made”. Its jazz-style guitar chords are sweet, with MacDowell trying his hand at a soulful sound, a nice colour of his voice.

Elements of exciting, frantic rap and complex rhythm backings are let down by the venue, with the fidelity of the lyrics lost to the tent, but the energy and rhythm are entertaining nevertheless.

When MacDowell and Thum are unleashed, they find a unique energy and groove that is impressive and infectious as they cross boundaries of genre and showcase what can be done with the human voice.

Jamie MacDowell and Tom Thum will be playing at the Umbrella Revolution at the Garden of Unearthly Delights until March 10. (Note, the show is labelled PG and parents should be prepared for a number of F-bombs throughout.)

Read more 2024 Adelaide Fringe coverage here on InReview.

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