Upon entering the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts, my attention was quickly diverted to the stand outside the Kelley Theatre for “Kodō” merchandise. A table was set up with “Kodō Evolution” t-shirts, DVDs, and pamphlets for a visitor’s guide to Sadao Island, Japan, home to Kodō themselves. Two monitors were set up, showcasing some of the band’s performances. The DVDs in stock featured some of the band’s performances, labelled “Dadan”, “Legend”, and “Eternity.” A CD was also available, featuring the band’s latest audio recording labelled “Kaden.” As I walked into the theatre, I found my seat and waited patiently for the show to begin.
To understand Kodō’s style, it’s best to start at their origin. The band started in Sudao Island, performing with taiko drums starting in 1983. The band’s name can be translated as two different meanings: “heartbeat” and “children of the drum.” Overtime, the band has become a progressively dynamic band whose performances can be attributed to their broad musical spectrum, all while relying on taiko drums. “Kodō Evolution” is a celebration commemorating 35 years since the band’s formation and subsequent fame in Japan, Europe and America.
Directed by Tamasaburo Bando, the show itself was done through 16 performers and various taiko drums, as well as other instruments such as flutes and gongs. Performing nine songs in total, the band was able to convey the tone of the song through intensity. With the exception of songs “Ake no Myojo” and “Yuyami”, most of the songs followed a certain form of intense feeling put into every beat played. You listened to a quiet and calm tune emphasized by lighting, and suddenly there was a barrage of fast beats that got louder every second. With “Ake no Myojo” and “Yuyami”, the darkness only helped the audience feel the atmosphere of the song. “Ake no Myojo” recreated sounds of water flowing and soft gong sounds to deliver a feeling of serenity, whereas “Yuyami” quite literally used the dark to portray a performance with lanterns dimming and brightening. Every performer put their all in into every song and every variety of atmosphere available from upbeat and comedic to epic and powerful.
To put it simply, Kodō brought a unique touch to the Kelley Theatre with their taiko drumming. Each song was followed by a unique show that brings out the tone it gives off. Breaking usual musical limits, the band is more than capable of doing whatever is in their talents. Kodō performed Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. for all to visit for the price of $5.