EAST VILLAGE — The fourth-annual American Beatbox Championships is headed to the East Village on Saturday, when 16 of the country's best will battle it out for the title.
At the event, being held at The Drom at 85 Avenue A, beatboxers will showcase their ability to create vocal percussion using only their mouths. Not only does the competition aim to find American's greatest beatboxer, event organizers hope to give them the respect other musical acts attract.
"People look at beatboxing and they think it's a novelty act, a party trick," said Steve Foxx, 28, the executive producer of the American Beatbox Championships. "It is a musical instrument that can be applied to any genre of music.
"People have literally put beatboxing in a box, and this show proves there is infinite possibilities for beatboxing," he added.
Members of the World Beatbox Association have been scouring the country for months, whittling down 150 applicants to identify the 16 finalists who will take the stage Saturday night.
"We are tough critics, there is no question about it," said Foxx, who has been beatboxing since he was 5 and has a university-educated background in drumming, as well as years spent as a professional musician.
The 16 finalists will do battle at 7:30 p.m. and be judged on elements such as musicality — rhythm, tempo, sounds effects, etc. — as well as creativity and charisma during their performance.
The judges include World Beatbox Association founder Chesney Snow and professional beatboxer Adam Matta.
The finalists, who will travel from as far away as California and Texas, are also competing for the exposure the event provides, according to Foxx.
"You don't realize the intense amount of love beatboxers have for the art form," he said, "and what they are willing to sacrifice to be a part of it."
Tickets cost $35 for the event, which starts with an open mic segment at 2 p.m. followed by other performances. The competition starts at 7:30 p.m. with an after party to follow.