Tomás Ford: BRAWL
Tomás Ford: BRAWL is a balls-to-the-wall brawl against music and social niceties. At the end there were no winners or losers, just a sweaty performer and four fewer audience members than we started with.
BRAWL is the culmination of a decade spent touring dingy punk rock clubs, and probably more decades refining personal anxieties and collecting stories.
The show is an energetic hour of songs and the odd poem, backed by Ford’s electro-punk sounds and horror-pop visuals flashing instructions and motivational messages over flickering images of his own face.
Tomás Ford: BRAWL at Four5Nine, as part of The Fxxk Yxu, is about as close as you could legally get to taking acid and stepping inside the Black Lodge from Twin Peaks.
By his own admission the show is not for everyone. Although a big part of me was pretending it wasn’t for me, I still felt unsettlingly safe surrounded by Ford’s unique style of chaotic weirdness. Subtlety is not something Tomás Ford could ever be accused of.
Visceral in some places, tender in others, and in every way liberating, this show is not one to take your mother to. It’s about as Fringe as Fringe gets: from the impromptu stripping right down to the haphazard staging and jumping on bar tops.
Ford’s powerful voice carries the performance from start to finish. As a punk singer he has the raw strength to be heard right from the back without a microphone.
When he is shrieking in audience members’ faces, going what he calls “full edgelord”, the comical effect is potent.
In between there are renditions of his own catalogue (and one cover) that are rarely introduced or explained, spanning a limited – it would be unfair to say non-existent – emotional spectrum.
Audience participation is obligatory for this one so if you’re hoping to sit back and be passively entertained, choose a different show.
The only way to appreciate, or hope to understand, Tomás Ford: BRAWL is to immerse yourself in the show and stay until the end. I can’t tell you if it’s worth it, only you can decide that for yourself.
In the meantime, enjoy the ride.