Party music plays and ravey visuals project onto a background screen as we wait for the show to start. Questions pop up on the screen- What’s a rule you’ve broken in the past? What’s something small you and the person you’re here with disagree on? Abandoman is preparing for a show in which he is going to pick out stories from the audience as material for improvised rap. He comes on stage filled with pep and with some kind of control panel tied around his neck. We soon find out he is using this pad to switch between beat tracks, and to (hilariously) autotune, reverb and sample his voice in real time.
Switching to a quiet gentle beat, he invites his first willing volunteers on stage to answer his questions. It is immediately clear that Abandoman is careful to make people feel comfortable as he questions them. He talks with charm and has a heartfelt sparkle in his eye which makes it impossible not to warm to him. All the while he is building up lyrics for his songs.
The beat kicks in and he starts rapping; weaving in wordplay, storytelling, cultural references and rhyme in a way that is truly impressive and imaginative. Comedically, he mixes up the mood of the beats and jumps from conversation to singing to rap. He creates instantly catchy songs and has the audience singing along, bobbing their heads and clapping to the beat unprompted. In some instances, he brings back references to earlier audience stories and bonds with us as we’re all in on the joke. Every song ends with a punchy final line and it goes like this, from song to audience interaction to song, for the rest of the show.
There is a magic to how quickly Adandoman is improvising the lyrics, to how quickly he must be calculating everything in his mind. It’s an impressively well coordinated mental juggling act which begs the question, when is he coming up with it all? Undeniably talented and witty, he delivers a cracking feel good show to close the festival. I don't think I saw anyone in the audience not smiling ear to ear.