Kodō One Earth Tour 2019: Evolution

ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,129
edited February 5 in Music & Movies
Yesterday my wife and I saw the Japanese taiko drumming group Kodō perform their 2019 "Evolution" tour at Zellerbach Hall, on the gorgeous UC Berkeley campus. The show was sold out, and the 2,689 seat auditorium was packed!


Neither of us knew a whole lot about the group going into the show. I've seen their name mentioned here and there in various audiophile circles when good dynamic system testing music is discussed. My wife loves live music and performance, and I'm a big fan of drums and rhythms in general, so we decided to check it out.

It turned out to be a fantastic show, and I'm very happy we decided to go! These guys (and a few gals, too!) put on an incredibly impressive performance. Talk about locked in, they were operating like a well oiled machine! No sheet music, no conductor - everything played 100% by memory. There were tempo and rhythm changes, complex patterns, syncopation, and deep layering. Nothing phased them. There were no mistakes. They were in complete and total harmony and synchronization with each other. It was spectacular.

Reading about the group, it quickly becomes evident why. They literally eat, sleep, and breathe taiko drumming. The members actually live and train together on Sado Island off the coast of Japan. I looked at the bio of one of the women performers, and it said she started playing at age 2! Also, check out their training and selection process (emphasis added by me): "Apprentices who hope to be performers spend two years living and training together communally in a converted school on Sado Island. After this period, apprentices who have been selected to become junior, probationary members spend one more year training and practicing in which they may be selected to become full members of Kodō." It's quite clear that they only accept the best of the best.

The performance ran for two hours, with a 15 minute intermission. They did a total of 11 different pieces, each having it's own type of drums or other unique characteristics. One featured singing and choreography. Another featured their largest drum, the 400kg Ō-daiko. When the shirtless, incredibly shredded drummer struck this thing with his massive drum sticks, you could feel the bass from it resonating in your chest! Quite stunning, and absolutely impressive from an athletic standpoint to watch him bang out complex rhythms on it for as long as he did. I also liked how there were no lulls or silence in between the songs. One or more of the drummers always kept a beat going that transitioned into the next piece.

Going back to the songs with the complex and synchronized choreography for a moment. It's hard at first glance to fully appreciate how difficult this is. Kindof like the old "pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time" thing. Any drummer will tell you that it's incredibly hard to walk or move around while playing and keeping in time with your rhythm. Marching bands do it, but their drummers are typically marching to the same rhythm that they are playing. The movements that Kodō were doing were graceful, fluid, flowing, and did not visually match the rhythms that they were playing while doing so. It's one of those things that's hard to wrap your head around just how impressive it is when you're watching it in the moment, but the more you think about it later the more you realize just how easy they made it all look when it is anything but. In addition to them making it look easy, I got the distinct impression that all of the performers thoroughly enjoyed what they do. The looks on their faces clearly told me that.

Even though it was an entirely acoustic performance, they were able to play at thunderously loud levels! If you typically wear earplugs to a concert, you'll definitely want to do so here as well. I was very thankful that I brought mine! In addition to the thunderous crescendos and pounding rhythms, they also demonstrated the ability to make the quietest of sounds with some of their drums. Tiny rhythmic ticks and taps that were extremely subtle and nuanced. Some of which would play off their fellow performer creating a stereo effect that panned from left to right, or that mimicked the sound of a falling ball - bouncing more rapidly as it was about to stop. The effortless grace and elegance, along with their rapid and impactful primal rhythms really served to demonstrate just how versatile they are.

Overall it was a unique, unforgettable, and fantastic show. A true demonstration of a group of humans working together in complete and perfect unity and harmony, proudly showing you just how exciting and powerful taiko drumming can be.

I highly recommend hearing them play live if you live anywhere close to where they will be touring. Not to be missed.
"Electronic music is human sound adapting to indulge technology, and for some, it feels like the signature sound of energy. New and abstract sounds over hypnotic rhythms can conjure vast soundscapes for escape, pleasure, and transcendence."


  • joecoulsonjoecoulson Posts: 3,429
    This sounds really cool and right up my alley. Looking forward to hearing some of this very soon. Shame they don’t have an Atlanta tour stop scheduled.
    Auralic Vega G1/Rega TT/Denon SACD - PS Audio SGC - PS Audio M700x2 - Elac Adante AF-61
  • joecoulsonjoecoulson Posts: 3,429
    My bet is that there are very few members of this forum with setups powerful enough to do that music justice in the home.
    Auralic Vega G1/Rega TT/Denon SACD - PS Audio SGC - PS Audio M700x2 - Elac Adante AF-61
  • Tony MTony M Posts: 8,299
    I think there are many, many of us that can recreate it. I probably can and don't have a super powerful sub like SVS or HSU and other makes. I have about 8 subs, maybe 10 and could create something wildly powerful but the triton ones will do the job I think.

    I'd love to get a copy of their acts. A video to watch them do their acts would be awesome on a projection screen or those big 70 LCDs now. :p B)

    I did a little demo of my Triton Ones for an old friend who stopped by for a cassette deck and he spoke out..."Oh yea" when I let him hear them compared to my Newform Research 645R towers. The volume wasn't loud either. The Doobies Brothers "Southside Midnight Lady" was playing from my 50 year old album that was almost silent until music or voices were heard. ;)

    Oh, he showed me his 200+ Laser Disc collection that he just got from his deceased Father-in-laws movie and music collection. It had a lot of great movies in it. It was cool to see that many at once!
    Most people just listen to music and watch movies. I EXPERIENCE them.
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,129
    edited May 11
    I'm thinking about this performance again, and reliving it in my head. I can't express how spectacular it was, and I implore you to experience it at least once in your life, if at all possible.

    This weekend I think I'll finally take a listen to the Kodo CD I purchased at the show!
    "Electronic music is human sound adapting to indulge technology, and for some, it feels like the signature sound of energy. New and abstract sounds over hypnotic rhythms can conjure vast soundscapes for escape, pleasure, and transcendence."
  • joecoulsonjoecoulson Posts: 3,429
    Yes. USB drive...
    Auralic Vega G1/Rega TT/Denon SACD - PS Audio SGC - PS Audio M700x2 - Elac Adante AF-61
  • mdaudioguymdaudioguy Posts: 5,082
    Glad you enjoyed! But, not for me. Two hours of nonstop drumming? I got a bit of a headache just watching the tour video! But, TEHO!
Sign In or Register to comment.

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!