After blowing away Mumbaikars in 2008 with pursed lips, rolled tongues and clattering teeth, Austrian beatboxers Bauchklang are back in their favourite city. Known for performing without musical instruments and reproducing sounds with their vocal chords, Bauchklang’s recent gig is part of their three-city tour, which will see the quintet testing their vocal limits with clenched fists and microphones.
Ask them what makes them so popular, years after beatboxing has lost its novelty value, and mouth percussionist Philipp Sageder of the vocal groovebox replies, “I have no idea. I think the first time we performed in Mumbai, we opened a new chapter in music.” Now, with their fourth tour in the city, the band thinks it’s the connection that they’ve established with their local audience that draws them back. A series of beatboxers from across the world have performed in Mumbai in recent times. But none has managed the same response as this ingenious act, which has seen packed clubs with crowds swaying to their unrecorded music.
“I think it’s the energy that the audience shares with us,” he says. Unlike their previous gigs, which have seen the Austrian beatboxers collaborate with local artists such as Zakir Hussain, Shankar Mahadevan and Taufiq Qureshi in the past, this year the band has no such plans. “The highlight this year would be to jam with anyone from the audience. I guess it’ll be impromptu. Even earlier, we never planned on jamming with Indian maestros, it just happened.”
About making Mumbai their annual stopover, Sageder says, “Why not? We think of Mumbai as our second home.” And sure enough, he does mean it. Married to a kathak dancer from Pune, Sageder divides his time between India, Austria and touring with his band. “We always want to come back here. The idea is to reach everyone in this big city. And even if we play every day here, I’m sure we won’t be able to do that.”
This year, after performing in Mumbai, Pune and Bengaluru, the beatboxers will share their vocal skills with kids from Dharavi. “On March 2, we plan to organise a workshop for the kids. We heard there’s a local beatboxing group in Dharavi, so it would be fun to hear them and pass on some tricks to other budding beatboxers,” he adds.
Bauchklang will perform at Blue Frog, Lower Parel on February 23, 9 pm onwards. Entry for the gig is Rs 500