Review: Astig! Drum Tao plays you like a beat ballet

David Dizon, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 20 2018 06:30 PM

"Go kuya! Astig!" "Ilabas ang dragon!" 

These and more were just some of the shouts I heard during the performance of the renowned Drum Tao group from Japan, which performed their first of several shows at the KIA Theater from April 19 to 22. 

From the very first beat to the last thundering echo, the audience at the Kia Theater was treated to a performance that was truly out of this world. 

Drum Tao's "Samurai Drum Rock" concert mixes martial arts, dance, percussion, and lights into an unending series of sonic surprises. One moment, you are wowed by a synchronized fan dance set to a rhythm, and the next, you're applauding for an ensemble playing drums on hoverboards. 

Percussionists are especially going get to drum-gasms out of this show. It's a concert that mixes all types of Japanese percussion instruments, from the small den-den daiko (made popular in the "Karate Kid 2" movie) to the barrel-like okedo-daiko drums, and the huge Okedo drums that were straddled by their players. 

The different styles of percussion were also a revelation, particularly the Onbayashi style that had the players seated or on a reclining position while playing in front of the drum. This is a type of playing that needs a lot of core strength, and just seeing the players get into a position had the audience bursting into applause. The biggest applause came when a screen onstage started zooming in on a player's six-pack. Animal from the Dr. Teeth band need not apply. 

One particular number had me on edge -- when two women played a drum duel on large upright drums as the beat slowed to a crawl, before speeding up. It's like watching Miles Teller on the final drum solo in Whiplash except you're seeing it live, with two women doing it. 

None of the performances were boring, even the seemingly quiet ones when the players switched to kotos (Japanese harps), shamisen (3-string guitar), or shakuhachi (Japanese flute). 

Watching Drum Tao felt like watching a drumline with the finest elements of theater, honed to precision like some kind of beat ballet. When they switched to the Miyake style of drumming, with percussionists switching to different taiko drums like a waveform, you wish they'd keep going for another half-hour. 

Bottomline: Drum Tao is an aural experience that deals with lights, thunders, and strings -- a percussive phenomenon that you shan't soon forget.

Or as one onlooker puts it: "Astig!" 

Drum Tao's "Samurai Drum Rock" will be staged at the KIA Theater until April 22. For more information, visit www.ticketnet.com.ph. 

For inquiries, call 370-2597/98 or visit www.facebook.com/shangrilaplazaofficial.