Tom Thum’s voice is a symphony orchestra. With a bass low enough to shake the seats and a falsetto high enough that glass breaking is not unimaginable, his beatboxing releases a kaleidoscopic sound. His limbs move as he beatboxes, as if the sounds are tied in with muscle memory.
Singer-songwriter Jamie MacDowell plays on the audience’s awe of Thum. “Some of the show will be me,” he says with dry wit. And MacDowell does shine too, his chilled guitar and clean vocals making the music less about showing off, and more about constructing a story.
Demonstrating their loop pedal and sampling the audience’s cheers, this talented Australian duo guide us around their mixing desk. Finding common ground in 90s R&B, their different styles – Thum is more East Coast rap while MacDowell’s rhythmic sound lends itself to campfire pop-acoustic – blend beautifully.
In this hour-long show the remarkable pair perform a mixture of original songs and classic mash-ups. Both take turns leading with personal pieces, their solos more delicate than their duets.Thum dedicates a remix of Bill Withers’ ‘Grandma’s Hands’ to his own grandma, while MacDowell performs a beautiful solo for a friend struggling with coming out, referencing the current politics of hostility back home.
The Australian duo aren’t precious over their set or their skills. “It’s totally fine if you wanna film it, just don’t do anything weird with it,” Thum laughs. The pair joke, ad lib piss-takes and stop to start over when they make mistakes. A little bit of falling, a lot of getting up.