Every year there are thousands of large and small music concerts where you can listen to the best drum music and see musicians on stage performing. If you are a percussionist or drum lover, there are many gigs out there for you where you can be inspired, amazed, and surrounded by other like-minded people.
In this article, we will look at different festivals and shows that are dedicated to drums from around the world, and even here in Malaysia. Let these soloists and bands excite you and allow you to discover the drums in a way that you have never seen! Can we have a drum roll, please?
What are the benefits of watching drums live?
You might be wondering what really is the big deal about watching a live percussion performance. The answer to that is simple really: the benefits of seeing live music go beyond the experience of that short moment - and, if you are a musician yourself, that should motivate you further to explore what percussion fans are into right now.
So, what are some of the advantages of going to see drum performers at a concert?
Extend your life expectancy
A 2018 study by the group of music venues, O2, found that going to live shows brings positive impacts to your well-being. An increase in well-being helps you to live longer, and in fact, the researchers suggest that attending gigs on a fortnightly basis can lengthen your life by up to nine years. Now could be a good time to save up for that drum show near you!
Reduce your stress
We already know that listening to music alone is linked to a decrease in stress. Yet, studies have found that going to gigs can reduce your heart rate and blood pressure, as well as your respiratory rate. These findings have been linked to a direct reduction in stress levels, and this is not yet including the actual artists who are playing their drums on stage - they are having a huge stress relief experience too, just by expressing themselves through music.
Be part of your community
Playing music in your bedroom and smashing on that electronic drum set with your headphones on can feel liberating. But attending concerts with others who are also passionate about the drums helps you get acquainted with those who share the same interests and types of music. This is the best opportunity for you to strike up conversations and form relationships with other musicians!
Expand your musical repertoire
Again, you can keep listening to music alone, but there's something about watching professionals perform that can inspire you to get creative. You could be watching Azim “JenK” Ali do a nifty new combination on his snare, or learn from his indie-style grooves that you can incorporate into your own playing. There’s really nothing better that can expand your repertoire than reflecting on your own playing and music-making through watching a drum soloist kill it on stage.
You should also seek out free drum sheet music for your next practice.
Who are the best drummers in the world right now?
If you’re familiar with the roles of a drummer, you’ll know that some bands keep their percussionists in the background, whilst there are times you’ll see them go wild on their drum set, or even become the highlight of the show!
Both these roles are important for producing great music but the former can prove to be monotonous for young, aspiring drummers. The standard 8th note groove may not do much to inspire one - just as the 12/8 groove doesn't provide much excitement for the accompaniment.
Many of the world’s best drummers pop up in the most unexpected places. So, who can you check out that is truly worth paying a listen to? Who are the drummers who have transcended traditional genres and styles to create their own kind of music?
In the international scene, here are the drummers you should absolutely check out now.
One of the most sought-after drummers in the world - Travis Barker cemented his status not only as a celebrity but also as a household name in modern punk-rock drumming. Barker was critically acclaimed by the Rolling Stones as among the 100 Greatest Drummers of All Time.
While Barker is most famously known as the percussionist of rock band Blink-182, you can also explore his striking drumming sound and style through groups +44, Box Car Racer and Transplants.
Even if you're not into metal, you should really be paying attention to someone like Mario Duplantier. This French-American artist is best known as the drummer of progressive death metal band, Gojira.
With the band set to tour next February in Europe, you may want to check out their tickets soon! You should also watch Duplantier’s newly-released, drum-only composition, “Movement” which is out on YouTube.
If you ever believed that “only the dudes” could become famous percussionists, well we’re here to say that all genders are welcome on the drumming scene! And Emmanuelle Caplette, who won Drumeo’s 2021 Jim Chapin Award, made her drumming debut at just 9 years old!
Caplette has performed in several major drum festivals, including The HLAG Drum Festival, The Montreal DrumFest, The Frankfurt Musikmesse and The Drum Ladies Fest. You may just catch a glimpse of her in your next live concert, or even catch her live at one of her workshops throughout Canada and Europe.
Similarly, if you think that famous drummers must come from countries other than Malaysia, then you need to think again. If you are serious about music, then you need to check out John Thomas - one of the top drummers in the Asian region, who also happens to be Malaysian!
Having gone through world tours alongside artists such as jazz flautist Néstor Torres and vocal band The Three Degrees, there is no limit to Thomas’ drumming genres as there is to his musical career.
Having played at the recent Borneo Jazz Festival, you can easily catch Thomas playing at popular artist scenes throughout Malaysia.
Let me also share with you, my personal favourite drummer:
Many of us already recognise Anderson .Paak from the super duo Silk Sonic, but apart from being a skilful vocalist and rapper, one of .Paak’s true talents lies with the drums.
It is said that singing and playing the drums simultaneously is a skill not many can execute gracefully. .Paak’s YouTube performance on NPR Music goes to show not only this beautiful execution but also the message he hopes to convey through his soul/funk grooves.
Would you like to study and become the best drummer in the world?
Where to find the top worldwide drum festivals?
Why catch just one drummer when you can listen to a symphony of percussionists? You are truly lucky if you are able to witness any of these drum festivals live, as they are known to showcase the best drumming performances.
Let It Roll
- Location: Milovice, Czechia
- When: Twice a year (once in winter, which is around late February; and another in summer, around early August)
- Price: From €55
You may find the entry tickets to be quite pricey, even if you were to attend for just one day of the festival. However, Let It Roll isn’t called the world’s leading drum and bass festival for nothing.
Each festival attracts over 25,000 visitors every year, which really comes as no surprise given they continue to host over 200 talented acts. Did you know that Let It Roll also goes on tour throughout various cities in Europe?
Fans from previous Let It Roll festivals had a blast listening to percussionists of different backgrounds, from the likes of Belgian drum and bass producer Netsky to Viennese duo Camo & Krooked, and even the magical DnB beats of the outstanding Australian electronic rock band, Pendulum.
Traditionally, Let It Roll hosts 3 days and nights of music and fun over the summer period, covering various genres of drum and bass from around the globe. If you’d rather visit in colder months, their Let It Roll Winter Edition takes place over 2 nights.
World Drum Festival
- Location: Popakademie Baden-Württemberg, Germany
- When: Annually in November
- Price: Free of charge!
Set up like a mixture of workshops, master classes, panels and concerts, and networking spaces… the World Drum Festival has everything that you would ever need to hear, see or feel related to the drums. They have it all: get to have lessons from professional drumming, watch world-class soloists perform, and check out the latest drumming technology.
This festival is a terrific place for you to get connected with drummers and percussionists from different world cultures. Drum enthusiasts can easily introduce themselves to an interested audience of professionals, as event-goers are always looking for what is currently the state of the art in the international drum and percussion scene.
Internationally-renowned musicians have always been featured: Anika Nilles and her band Nevell, Claus Hessler and his band Flux, Ash Soan and Jost Nickel are among these amazing performers who have also taught master classes at the show. Learn to find your style of drumming and even the steps to compose your drumming masterpiece!
But the best part of the icing on the cake is that they have performers on stage for your viewing pleasure. Drummers and percussionists demonstrate their gift on the stage towards the latter part of the festival, in the evening after the extensive day of workshops and classes.
Hands International Drumming Festival (Kaleidoscope)
- Location: Kuala Lumpur
- When: Once every two years, exact dates vary
- Price: From RM88
You don’t have to travel overseas if you would like to watch an international-level drum concert. As the first fully-professional percussion group in the country, Hands Percussion has over 30 productions to its name! However, it’s safe to say that their bi-annual festival is the number one show you should be looking out for.
Also known as the Kaleidoscope series, drummers and musicians from Japan, Norway, Spain, Indonesia, Vietnam and even The Netherlands have been invited to perform since the festival’s inception in 2009. Experience not only a rich cultural exchange, but be introduced also to musical instruments and genres you may have never encountered before!
This mixture of various cultures is also in line with Hands Percussion’s goals of reinventing art forms and representing diversity. That is why you can even participate in workshops and symposiums organised during the festival to further learn about the drums from their certified league of percussionists.
It’s even been said that Hands 1 and 2 (the team’s own groups of drum professionals) are the stars of the show!
International Festival of 24 Festive Drums
- Location: Malaysia
- When: Bi-annual, exact dates vary
- Price: RM30 for students, standard tickets are RM60 onwards
Just like the Kaleidoscope series, this is not your typical drum-and-bass show. If you aren’t familiar already, the 24 Festive Drums are highly popularised in Chinese schools and universities throughout the country. But did you know this art form originated in Malaysia?
In 1998, this new style of percussion was created by cultural activist, Tan Chai Puan and renowned musician, Tan Hooi Song. It became a tradition among Chinese drum troops and got so popular that the idea was later exported back to China!
Although the festival centres on the 24 Festive Drums, don’t just expect one or two similar performances. Buckle up for two mega showcases: the National Championship and the International Show. For the championship, winning drum troops from five different Malaysian regions will compete to show off their creativity and drumming skills!
This is then followed by a celebration of everything percussion with performers from Malaysia, and even other countries like China and Singapore. The top three winners from the National Championship will also join in the performances!
You will find that there is no one way to play the drums - there are other ways to discover its beauty, even in traditional forms. You can totally learn how to play the drums for free.
What other events are related to the drum?
The drums are a fairly popular instrument, and several other events are popping up here and there. These also come with one-off workshops, online lessons, open seminars, and drumming shows to look forward to.
Here are some unique drum events you can find in Malaysia.
Malaysia Drum Day
Designed to display the artistic talents of the local scene, this programme consists of local drummers who specialise in their respective types and genres of music. During this special occasion, the workshops will emphasise aspects such as artistic value, music theory, drumming techniques and creativity to support budding musicians. You can even have career discussions with amateur and professional drummers.
Bon Odori Festival
This yearly festival has actually been around since 1977, as a way to strengthen cultural ties between Malaysia and Japan through Japanese cuisine, art and dance. At the centre stage of the festival, you can watch people dance to the sounds of the taiko drum, often accompanied by the tune of folk songs.
Sarawak Drums Festival
If you were ever interested in the Sarawak drum, come visit this festival which seeks to preserve the cultural arts of the state. Apart from the much-anticipated Sarawak drum performance, there is even a Sarawak Malay Drum Competition and Talent Search Competition for locals who are ready to let their skills shine.
Yayasan Sime Darby Arts Festival
Also considered the largest free-for-all arts festival in the country, featured here are almost entirely local talent, including percussionists and drum enthusiasts. Held once every two years, you can watch an amazing showcase of drums while experiencing hands-on drum workshops and drum demonstrations.
The world of drums is attracting more and more followers, and it is little wonder that new events are flourishing in connection with the percussion instrument.
With more drummers performing live, it is possible to participate in several festivals and events around drummers and drums, whether you are a beginner wishing to progress or a professional looking for inspiration.
So which drum festival will you be joining?
Where to find unique percussion shows?
Well, we've covered the music festival circuit, as well as some of the best percussionists you can find. However, we've mainly stuck to festivals that are held on almost a yearly basis. What about performers and acts you can look out for throughout the year?
There are so many different - and equally amazing - drum performers out there that can provide you with the inspiration you need to keep moving forward with your playing. You may even get access to free drum lessons!
Here are a few examples featuring our local drum talent.
Orang Orang Drum Theatre
The drums aren’t all about the snare drum, cymbals, and the hi-hat. Orang Orang Drum Theatre is a real testament to this fact - but, as experimental artists, their work doesn't make for easy listening.
Orang Orang Drum Theatre reinterprets the art form of the 24 Festive Drums by incorporating theatrical elements to tell a story, such as current issues related to the environment or society. They’ve also adopted modern approaches to preserve dying musical traditions.
Their shows have widely gained the attention of “drum theatre”, so you can expect intense drum beats and artistic choreography. Not something for everyone, but if you are interested in the very limits of the drums, this is for you.
Souls Impact Percussion
There are plenty of 24 Festive Drums traditions going around, but one of the best is Souls Impact Percussion. Similar to Orang Orang Drum Theatre, Souls Impact combines movement with drum beats, but with an added element of infusing both Chinese and Western percussion.
Apart from East meets West, Souls Impact also introduces movements from yoga, martial arts and contemporary dance to their drum performances. Their 2016 production, Carpe Diem, was awarded the Best Production Value at the 2017 BOH Cameronian Arts Awards.
Another cool thing about their shows is that you can see other percussionist instruments being played, such as the xiao shigu (small drums) and xiao luo (small cymbals), and even the jidor drums that are commonly played by kompang groups in Johor.
Moving on from Chinese and Western percussion, here comes the dhol, a double-headed drum originating from the Indian subcontinent. With over 15 years of experience in the art, these award-winning dhol players never fail to amaze their audiences.
You’ll want to catch the Dhol Ambassadors bringing their long-established bhangra roots to the stage: watch them not only create highly addictive music with the drums but also dance the traditional bhangra folk way! You’ll want to keep coming back for more.
The team actually travels the globe with their mission to spread the sounds of the dhol drum and their traditional dance to the world. If you can catch any of their performances, it’s guaranteed to be an exhilarating experience!
How to become a live percussion master?
It’s time to elevate your percussion skills to the next level.
Listening to live percussion is a fantastic way to improve your drum playing, but what if you need to polish up certain skills or need some support along the drumming journey?
What you can do is learn from a drum instructor, such as our team of drummers and professionals on Superprof. Superprof is an international learning platform that connects students to tutors from almost every learnable subject, including how to play the drums.
You can learn the drums from scratch, or even become an advanced drummer with a Superprof drum instructor. Sounds too good to be true?
With Superprof, you can learn drums at any level, from a beginner drummer to a master percussionist. You just need to make sure you’ve found a tutor who is suited to your level of learning on our Superprof Tutors catalogue, which is available on our Private Tutors page.
Start your learning journey with us from as low as RM25, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming an excellent live percussionist.
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