Forty Years of Banging the Crap Out of Things

Taiko no TetsujinAnother year means another post from me imploring people to see the San Francisco Taiko Dojo’s Concert in Berkeley in November. This year is the 40th Anniversary Show, so it should be a pretty big deal. I’m especially looking forward to it because I missed last year’s concert in Berkeley as well as the past two years’ Cherry Blossom festivals.

The SF Taiko Dojo has a bunch of older videos online to give you a rough idea of what you can expect from the shows. Below is video of a performance from 2002 (this is the younger performers’ “Rising Stars” group, but they’re still excellent and this is the most recent video I can find):

But it’s no exaggeration at all to say you have to be there to appreciate it. It’s only tangentially like a music concert; as you can see in the video, it’s as much about movement and choreography as it is about music, but what you can’t see in the video is that it’s also about having the wind knocked out of you. At the risk of sounding like a Marin County Earth Child: there’s an energy that fills the entire hall and pulls everyone in the audience up into the performance. It’s less like a concert and more like the climax of Raiders of the Lost Ark (without actual face-melting).

Those of us who live in the Bay Area are really lucky to have the chance to see regular performances from the SF Taiko Dojo. (And if anybody else out there is planning on seeing the show, let me know!)

4 thoughts on “Forty Years of Banging the Crap Out of Things”

  1. Seriously, if you’re interested at all, you should definitely check it out. (I can even carpool!) The SF dojo has the reputation of being the best outside of Japan. Tickets are $40-$50, but I wouldn’t hesitate for a second recommending it to anyone, especially if you’ve never seen an indoor performance by a taiko group before.

    The first show I saw began with all of the groups (SF, San Jose, and LA’s) assembled on stage; there had to be at least 50 drummers up there. When they all started at once, it was literally stunning.

  2. Went to see this tonight, and it was stunning. The last piece brought tears to my eyes, simply because the performance was so intense. Great stuff. Now I want to go learn how to play!

  3. You should’ve told me you were going! (If nothing else, you could’ve given me a ride home, since the stupid garage closed at midnight).

    Yeah, it was pretty spectacular, and I even enjoyed the parts of the performance that I usually can’t get into — like the dancing or the solo performances.

    But the group from Japan (O Edo Sukeroku Taiko according to the program) was absolutely incredible. Like, “humans shouldn’t be able to do that” incredible. And they just kept going. And the MC said that they invented the style of taiko the SF Taiko Dojo does. Just amazing.

    The next show that I’m aware of is at the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japantown, and they usually have a float for the parade. The performances I’ve seen there usually aren’t as big as the ones at Zellerbach, but I think it’s pretty much impossible for the SF dojo to give a bad show. And every show I’ve seen, they ended with “Tsunami.”

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