Music is a force powerful enough to calm a baby, soothe a wild beast, or compel the two to dance with each other. Be overcome with this GrouponLive deal to see Kodo, a Japanese taiko drum-performance ensemble, on their One Earth tour at the Pabst Theater. For $30, you get one ticket for second-floor seating on Thursday, February 21, at 8 p.m. (up to a $63.26 value, including all fees). Doors open at 7 p.m.
One Earth Tour
Wind rustles through waist-high grass and thunder rolls through Pabst Theater––or at least it sounds that way as five dozen performers reach across cultural boundaries with their hypnotizing music that aurally recreates natural scenes. In Kodo’s international One Earth tour, the ensemble aims to further connect the diverse people of the world with its taiko drums––instruments that had long been used to communicate across vast distances in a time before cell phones or carrier pigeons shot out of cannons. Clad in conventional costumes and modern wear, the athlete-musicians put on an energetic show of otherworldly rhythms, while traditional dancers in monstrous masks elicit awe as they flit on and off the stage.
An ancient rhythm beats in the hearts of Kodo, a 60-member taiko drum ensemble that hails from an isolated community on the island of Sado. With a name that can be translated as either “heartbeat” or “child of the drum,” and an international touring schedule that takes up a third of the year, Kodo stays devoted to its mission: to channel something fundamentally and universally human with their thunderous vibrations. Taiko has been a part of Japanese culture for more than 2,300 years, and when Kodo made their international debut at the 1981 Berlin Festival, they heralded a new renaissance of the fascinating style of music.
Kodo performs at the Acropolis in 1997
Literally meaning “great drum,” taiko is an imported Chinese instrument adapted by the Japanese sometime in the Yayoi period, around 500–300 BCE. It is so integral to Japanese culture that it plays a prominent role in the Japanese creation myth, as the goddess Ame-no-Uzume tempts Amaterasu, the sun, by drumming her feet in a boisterous dance. On the thousand bloody battlefields that made Japan, it was the taiko drummer who set the marching pace and signaled the call to attack or retreat. Today, practitioners of taiko drumming embrace the ancient music with peaceful goals in mind, and the style has become one of the most successful Japanese art forms to break through to an international audience.
Captain Frederick Pabst contributed to Milwaukee’s status as a cultural landmark of the upper Midwest by building Pabst Theater, formally known as Das Neue Deutsche Stadt-Theater, in 1895. According to legend, when he was informed that his theater had burned to the ground, the brewing magnate interrupted his European vacation to wire home the order to “Rebuild at once!”—and 11 months later, the stage was completed anew. Where the old theater honored German artists by having their names inscribed along the cornice of the auditorium, the new building featured an international consortium of cultural notables. The theater’s globe-spanning influences were made even more apparent with the installation of an Austrian crystal chandelier and an Italian marble staircase.