Saturday, August 29, 2009

Earth Celebration

Earth Celebration

Ok, hold on to your kimono’s, this might be my most excited update yet! Sado holds one of Japan’s biggest and most popular festivals every summer called Earth Celebration. The festivals centers around a 3 day concert featuring the internationally famous taiko drumming group Kodo. Taiko drumming was born on Sado, and Kodo is the band to see if you want to hear good taiko. Let me tell you…well, not let’s talk about the festival first, then Kodo.

The festival is your typical Sado festival turned up to 11 (Spinal Tap reference, anyone…?). More food stalls of greater variety, more music from all over Japan and the world, more people, and lots of hippies. Yeah, hippies love them some Earth Celebration. Japanese hippies are serious too. The whole get up head to toe and some of them actually pull it off quite well. I saw a few good fringe performances held around the concert grounds; a fire dancer, a trio with a pianist from Atlanta, and a very skilled guitar player. Mostly I just walked around to the different stalls, met people, and hung out until the concert later that night.

Let me first explain how you get to the concert. First, you buy a ticket in the weeks before the show. Next, on the day of your concert you go to the bottom of the “mountain” that the concert is held on top of and get your “color”. This allows them to seat people in waves. This concert is a big deal so we got there at 6:30am and the lines opened at 9:00am. There were about 150 people lined up by 9:00. Then, 2 hours before the show, you show up at the place you got your “color” and go up the mountain when your color is called. Finally, you set up your tarp, chill out, and wait for the show.

I love live music, I love the outdoors, and I love seeing people having a good time. This concert gave me all of that and more! Kodo played first and MAN! No words do them justice. We were really close and actually feeling, literally, every beat of these taiko drums was amazing. Listening to it on Itunes or YouTube just does not inspire the feeling I got from their live show. The entire group gives it there all and it shows!

They had drums of all sizes, from hand held to some at least 4 feet across that require a baseball bat size ‘drum-club’ to play. They dance around, play games, play off each other, everything! It’s a real show. Blof was the visiting band this year. A pretty big deal in Holland, this Dutch band really impressed me. I am used to not understanding song lyrics from Japanese music so maybe that makes me more tolerant. Seeing Kodo and Blof play together was a real treat. Both bands were having such a good time, and their collaboration was really well done in my opinion. I’m no music expert, but you are reading my blog and are therefore entitled to my opinion.

I have no idea what this song is about, but I do know that it was AMAZING to watch live. I love to see people with nearly nothing in common on the surface come together and make something beautiful. Give it a listen. Oh, my concert had about 10 more drums than the set up in the video. Well, and an open air stadium at the top of a mountain. Jealousy is the natural response.
Here is the Kodo/Blof collaboration song - Click HERE

This is the “About Kodo” page in English - Kodo in English

Enjoy. Sorry for the long article.

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