Tommy Cash review: A radical, energetic and genre-defying live performance

words by sidonie bird de la coeur

Eccentric Estonian rapper, conceptual artist and fashion icon Tommy Cash bought his Post-Soviet aesthetics and unconventional presence to the Night Cat on Saturday night.

A multidisciplinary artist, Cash really does have an unforgettable live stage presence. Emerging onstage from the depths of the crowd in a motorcycle uniform with hair braided into schoolgirl-like plaits, he took the audience on a journey through his genre-bending musical tracks.

Born in ’91 in Estonia, the year the Soviet Union dissolved, Tommy Cash grew up in a post-Soviet Baltic that has continued to inspire his musical expression. With his fearlessly unforgettable approach to music and art, his music intersects unconventional boundaries by blending genres and aesthetics. The aspect of his performance that drew me to Tommy Cash in the first place was his distinctive freestyle dancing – blending styles of popping, krumping and breakingdancing, it adds to his extremely captivating live presence.

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Featuring tracks from his 2021 EP MONEYSUTRA and 2019’s $, Tommy Cash’s live show was a genre-bending tour-de-force of unconventional artistry.

Performing in the round at the Night Cat, he sauntered around stage with delightfully sleazy and slimy energy. It’s the kind of show where you weasel your way to the front and notice too late that you’re surrounded by people bigger, tougher and more mosh-ready than you are – where that doom sense of “fuck … I’m going to die now aren’t I?” doesn’t kick in until the crowd around you have already started jumping.

That being said – the crowd at Tommy Cash’s show were mad chill. A man standing in front of me lost his wallet in the chaos, which was picked up by someone else and handed back to him. I accidently smashed a drink out of some guy’s hand, who shrugged off my apology and offer of purchasing him another drink with “I guess that’s what I get for bringing my drink into the mosh,” before disappearing once again into a sea of ​​faces. It’s this kind of energy that Tommy Cash attracts; loud, energetic and rough, but ultimately full of light-hearted, fun, cheerful and mischievous moments.

A dynamic performer in his own right, Tommy utilized the entire stage, performing to people situated at the sides as well as the front. At one point, he hopped on top of the DJ decks behind him, performing while squatting or standing on the booth.

An embodiment of Eastern Europe, Tommy Cash himself transcends the boundaries of history, sexuality and gender. You might have heard about his 2019 exhibition at Kumu art museum in Tallinn, where he exhibited his own sperm – nothing that weird happened at the Night Cat, although he did throw several water bottles into the audience at one point. A costume swap at the show’s halfway point saw him re-emerging in a crop top and a long, yellow tartan kilt held onto his belt by carabiners.

A highlight of the show was when he made the whole venue sit down for the ‘designated Tommy Cash show break’. He didn’t continue the show until everyone was, like him, Slavic-squatting on the ground. Infectiously cheeky, he would point out people who were still standing, including one of the Night Cat’s security personnel, who was standing stony-faced in the corner. “You sit down too – everyone is equal,” Tommy Cash giggled.

The designated Tommy Cash show break was needed – he made the whole venue stand up at the same time, while directing the audience to form a death circle during PUSSYMONEYWEED.

After the show was over and the lights went up, I stepped out of the Night Cat and the bitter coldness of a Melbourne evening turned the sweat of a hundred strangers to ice on my body.

Check out Tommy Cash’s website by heading here.

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