The percussive music of Japanese drumming company Kodo did more than remind a packed audience why a superb-sounding facility like Reynolds Hall is important. The troupe’s ritualistic wallop also revealed how today’s skins-smacking Vegas shows—Blue Man Group, Cirque du Soleil’s Mystère—are indebted to the art form of ensemble drumming, or taiko. The roots of taiko can be traced to the pre-Christian era, and for two hours (which included a 20-minute intermission), one felt viscerally transported to a sonically enlivened, more primal world. From the hummingbird-whisper-to-shattering-climax rim shots of “Kaden” to the drum-switching leapfrog of “Monochrome,” the program’s first half was short and sweet, yet merely a warm-up for the second half’s thunderous devastation. The massive O-daiko drum, measuring 4 feet across and hewed from a centuries-old cypress, pounded like a warrior god’s vengeful heartbeat thanks to a cast of rotating male performers, each wearing a silk mawashi (sumo diaper) and little else. Watching trapezius muscles ripple like lightning strikes along a drummer’s back was hypnotic. The concluding “Yatai-bayashi,” in which two drummers beat large cylindrical drums from seated positions, was a feat of sound and abs-crushing strength. In sum, Kodo One Earth Tour 2013’s Vegas stop inspired everyone on a musical level, and made many of us consider renewing our gym memberships. ★★★★☆
A Peek at Life Is Beautiful 2017
Gorillaz are coming to Las Vegas for the first time ever. 2016’s Grammy winner for best new artist, Chance the Rapper, will return. English rockers Muse will bring their dizzying live show to the streets of Downtown. And that’s just the top of an eclectic bill that features more than 70 acts, along with comedy, interactive art installations, a group art exhibit featuring the work of Mark Ryden, Tara McPherson and Shepard Fairey and much more. Last year saw more than 137,000 attendees trod the festival footprint. Who’s ready for more?
Best of the City 2016
Our seventh annual celebration of all things Las Vegas, from the best place to fix your speeding ticket to the best Bloody Mary.