Yesterday, I got to go see an amazing concert, put on by none other than the San Jose Taiko. This group has been around for over thirty years, and have taken Japanese taiko drumming to a new level.
Before going to the show, I was not at all sure what to expect, though I knew it was going to be good. I was not disappointed. From the get go, I found myself spellbound by what I saw before my eyes, a group of very talented musicians doing what they do best.
The first thing I noticed was not so much the music, but the style. All the artists were not only intent on playing well, but also on looking good while playing. By this I don't mean makeup and pretty faces, but gracefulness. Part of what made the performance so amazing was that each musician played with such beauty. Sometimes, the group was fully synchronized, other times not, but always the artists were adding a visual element to the music.
As the show went on, I noticed a certain pattern to the music, one that cannot be considered a formula, but rather a form of respect to each performer. I have seen shows in which a particular musician, or two or three, are highlighted and shown to be the best. For the San Jose Taiko, this was not the case. Everyone had an opportunity to shine, on virtually every song performed. A rhythm would be established, and then they would take turns soloing.
As a member of the audience, and even as one sitting far as far back as I was, I could see quite clearly that this was a serious workout. The taiko drums are large and loud, but to be loud they require a hefty pound. The drum sticks used were not small, and some of the drums were themselves enormous.
One of my favorite things about taiko is the style of drumming. Contrary to other styles more commonly seen in popular music, taiko drummers use both sides of the drum sticks. Each side is equally important, and they are used to create different sounds and effects to the music.
So overall, I enjoyed the show immensely. There were a few times, however, that I found myself annoyed. This had nothing to do with the performance, but rather with the audience. Apparently, people are forgetting how to behave appropriately during a show.
For instance, before the show, there is an announcement that all cell phones and pagers must be turned off. A reasonable request. But I guess the guy two rows ahead of me is too good to follow rules, because he pulls out his phone not once, but twice, over the course of the show, and leaves it open so that it shines in my eyes and distracts me from the show. During intermission, I said somewhat loudly that I enjoyed everything except that some jerk decided to play on his cell phone in the middle of it. Hopefully, the guy overheard this, and maybe next time he'll think twice before he whips the phone out again.
Honestly, when you go to a show, you should be going to get away from it all! Don't play with your cell phone until after the show, or else don't even bother coming. You can play with your phone any old time you like, but you can only see a show like this once in a great while.
But I digress. I left the show feeling quite exhilarated, with pounding drum beats in my head and a smile on my face. Who can complain about that?