button Tabla Kwaiesa
@ Yokohama Silk Road Buto-Kan (6th Mar '05)

"Groove Is In The Heart"

    About a year ago I had the opportunity to interview Franz Ferdinand frontman Alex Kapranos. During our forty minute conversation, the singer said that he thought the best dance music was made by humans. After watching Tabla Kwaiesa perform as part Soul Planet's Carpet Vol. 2 in Yokohama I totally agree with him.

    Comprised entirely of Japanese musicians, the talented collective of Middle Eastern percussionists have been building a name for themselves in Tokyo and its surrounding areas with their explosive live set. All seven members of the group are extremely skilled musicians, but what truly makes their performances unforgettable is their undeniably strong showmanship and charisma. Easily the most entertaining tabla ensemble in the country, their passionate delivery can win over the hearts of any crowd.

    Entering from the back of venue, the six players (Rentaro was unable to attend the day's event) walked through the middle of the audience while hitting their respective instruments. Reaching the stage area, they spread out in a horizontal line as they continued to bang out their upbeat intro. Looking quite fashionable in their matching black outfits, the group instantly began to showcase their fancy footwork. Assuming the role of master of ceremonies, zill player Ueda led the band through a series of choreographed twists and spins as attendees watched in awe.

    As the tempo began to slow down everyone dropped to one knee. Ken, who was clad in a rather dashing feather boa, stood and proclaimed "This is Daisuke." On cue, Daisuke rose and began to play his solo. Pounding away on his darabukka, he slowly made his way into the middle of the floor to play with the crowd. Ken then introduced the extremely energetic Shinshi, who jumped up like a four-year-old that had just devoured half a dozen chocolate bars and started playing the next round of Arabic beats. As the rest of the band joined in, Shinshi, Ken, Ueda, and duf player Kae proceeded to take a stroll through the audience, spreading their joy and love of Middle Eastern music throughout the room. Like all truly great showmen, Tabla Kwaiesa do a fantastic job of interacting with crowds and making them feel like a part of the show. By erasing the notion that performers should be held in higher regard than their audiences, the group created a positive vibe that made for a heightened and extremely memorable experience.

    Clearly having a great time the guys continued to bounce and dance around while unveiling different percussive arrangements. The predominantly Japanese crowd grinned, swayed, and showed their enthusiasm by clapping along. Feeding off of the energy, Ueda strutted towards a microphone that was set up in the corner and engaged the audience in some call and response by yelling "I say yo, you say ho," which soon filled the crammed venue with a surprisingly loud chorus of "yo"s and "ho"s.

    Realizing that music this good needed to be danced to, belly dancers E-chan and Milla shimmied out to join the band. The girls took turns tantalizing the crowd with their expressive movements as Ueda chanted "Go go E-chan. Go go Milla." Unable to resist the party atmosphere on stage, the ladies each grabbed a pair of zills to contribute to the wonderful noise erupting from the darabukkas and duf. It wasn't long before all eight performers were moving as one, kicking their feet up from side to side in a display that would have made the Rockettes proud. With the sounds increasing in speed, Shinshi picked up his riqq to add a new texture to the songs. Hide, Ken, and Daisuke all began striking the skins of their drums really hard and fast causing all of Tabla Kwaiesa to begin headbanging and "rocking out" as only they can.

    By this time the audience could no longer contain themselves and flooded the stage area to dance with the group and belly dancers. With big smiles spread across all of the beautiful faces inside Silk Road Buto-Kan and a whole lot of skinny behind-shaking by Shinshi the audience and band became one. For a few brief moments all worries were cast aside and the only thing on the minds of spectators was the magnificent percussion being displayed by the gifted group of musicians. Kapranos was right - the best dance music is made by humans. Lucky for us they reside in Japan and go by the name of Tabla Kwaiesa.
report by shawn

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buttonmag files : Tabla Kwaiesa

buttonGroove Is In The Heart : (05/03/06 @ Yokohama Silk Road Buto-Kan) : review by shawn
buttonExpansive Rhythms : (04/12/04 @ Cozmo's Cafe and Bar) : review by shawn

The official site

Tabla Kwaiesa

check the albums?



buttonInterview : Constantly Evolving : 90 Day Men (13th Mar)
buttonIt's Party Time! : The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, The Benevento/Russo Duo (28th Feb @ Shibuya Club Quattro)
buttonWeekly Service : The Chemical Brothers (12th Feb @ Shibuya AX)
buttonTattoos and a Whole Lotta Hair : EXTREME THE DOJO Vol.12 feat. Every time I Die, As I Lay Dying and Shadows Fall (7th Feb @ Shibuya Club Quattro)
buttonGeography At Its Best : ISIS (5th Feb @ Shibuya Club Quattro)
buttonTo The Extreme : The Shins (31st Jan @ Harajuku Astro Hall)
buttonCD review : "Panopticon" : Isis (27th Jan)
buttonWinter Be Damned : Ash (17th Jan @ Shibuya AX)
buttonInterview : Peaceful, But Far From Quiet : Mono (20th Jan)
buttonCD review : "The Nein" : The Nein (13th Jan)


buttonCD review : "Christmas" : Old Man Gloom (28th Dec)
buttonMusic Soothes the Savage Beast : eastern youth (20th Dec @ Shibuya Club Quattro)
buttonAnd to all A Good Night : Shonen Knife (19th Dec @ Daikanyama Unit)
buttonExciting Music for Exciting People : illreme (6th Dec @ Shibuya Club Quattro)
buttonExpansive Rhythms : Tabla Kwaiesa (4th Dec @ Cozmo's Cafe and Bar)
buttonIt's In Their Hands Now : Franz Ferdinand (29th Nov @ Shibuya AX)
buttonLights, Camera, Action : Brahman (15th Nov @ Ebisu Liquidroom)
buttonMostly Business : The Stills (8th Nov @ Ebisu Liquidroom)
buttonScare The Rock Right Outta Ya : Halloween Ball 2004 feat . The 5,6,7,8's, Gasoline, The Woggles (30th Oct @ Shiomkitazawa Shelter)
buttonThree More, Two More, and Take it to the Left : Hawaiian6/ Idol Punch (11th Oct @ Shinjuku Loft)
buttonBusting Eardrums : Mogwai (5th Oct @ Ebisu Liquidroom AX )
buttonMedical Breakthrough : The Most Notorious Vol. 18 feat. Melt Banana and K.K. Null (25th Sept @ Shimokitazawa Shelter )
buttonGrey Skies Are Going To Clear Up... : HUSKING BEE (5th Sept @ Shibuya AX )
buttonno title : V∞REDOMS (8th Aug @ Ebisu Liquidroom )
buttonCD review : Andre Ethier With Christopher Sandes : Andre Ethier


buttonCause Music Must Be Magic : Mayor McCa (21st Dec @ The Casbah,Hamilton, Ontario )
buttonMake It a Double : EVANESCENCE (28th Jul @ Shinjuku AX)
buttonGetting Knifed in Tokyo : Shonen Knife / bloodthirsty butchers(12th Jul @ Shibuya Club Quattro)
buttonHail Hail! Some of Japan's best come together to pay tribute to San Diego's finest : TRIBUTE TO ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT feat. John Speedo with Jet Boys, Retro Gretion, and KEMURI, (21st June '03 @ Shibuya Club Quattro)
buttonThe Canucks are Coming! The Canucks are Coming! : Simple Plan & GOB (26th Apr @ Akasaka Blitz)
buttonno title : Banda Bassotti with Doberman, Oi Skall Mates & Rude Bones (12th May @ Kawasaki Club Citta)
buttonThe Enchanting Sounds of Summer : KEMURI (31st May @ Shinjuku ACB Hall)
buttonAbsolutely F**king Brilliant!! : The Coral (21st Apr @ Shinjuku Liquid Room)
buttonno title : Short Circuit w/ Asparagus (24th Mar @ Shibuya AX)

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