This is big; the setting, the stage, the sound. Black Violin with Drums is an outfit to be reckoned with, and one to challenge your perceptions. Hip-hop beats, percussive drive and classical groove mash in a fusion of sound that justifies the invitation to “scream and yell at any time”.
For the past eight years, the group’s reputation has grown, with sell-out Broadway shows and Presidential Inaugurations clear recognition that they are performers of note.
This is an interactive performance which reflects how Kev Marcus (violin) and Will B (viola) have reached beyond traditional expectations to showcase what can be done with amplification, effects boxes and loop machines. DJCJ’s turntable action and Jermaine “Beatdown” McQueen’s drumming simply make the point irrefutable. Each gets their moment to shine as the audience is directed to clap, wave, dance and record the moment; this is not a copyright-phobic quartet.
The energy in the room is irrepressible. Marcus’s Yamaha SV-250 sings to us, B’s vocals caress and CJ’s rap keeps it real. Shrouded by Perspex (is this a tribute to Animal?), Beatdown drives it all home. The manner in which the instruments become an extension of the player is laid out for all to see. Amplification is not enough as violins become bass guitars and violas ukuleles; special guest Tiffany adds a whole new dimension. This is an in-your-face event.
“The Mission” is clear: “The point of this show is to get everyone to think outside of the box”. The single “A flat” is Black Violin’s creation story. This may be targeted especially at youth, but like the advice to outwork everybody, it is something we all can take on.
The last word comes from my 10-year-old son: “That was wickedly awesome. I’ve never experienced anything like that before and probably never will.”
Black Violin with Drums also play at the Hewitson Theatre in Gawler on May 27 and Middleback Theatre in Whyalla on May 29.