We all got the email on Wednesday night – “We might confirm this gig in the United Arab Emirates, but it’s next week, so check your calendars and keep it in mind.” We got another email Thursday morning – “We are booked to go to the UAE. Get back to me asap.” What???

 

Maz, Joe, Jimmy and I left on Tuesday afternoon after a weekend of panicked packing and schedule rearranging. But hey, it’s not everyday that you get to pick up and fly away to the other side of the world to play some Taiko. It only took 16 hours to get there on our awesome Emirates double decker air bus. I think I watched 3 movies and had some of the best airplane food I’ve ever had.

 

Once there, the Dubai International Airport was a breeze. We even saw Paris Hilton, her body guard and her (less famous) traveling companion. The drive from Dubai to Al Ain (which is in Abu Dhabi) was filled with back-seat rehearsal time! Never stop working, people. We were greeted with juice and smiles at the Hilton Al Ain. Dinner that night? – Japanese food at one of the Hilton’s many eateries!

 

Suffice it to say, sleep that night was glorious. The next morning, we met Miss Hannah, our mother duckling for the rest of the trip. She was absolutely amazing and really easy to work with. The first day was a full drum unpacking and rehearsal day. We met Natalie and the rest of the People at the Al Ain football stadium. The production company had such great ideas and we had the honor of being included in all of them. Thanks, People! And thanks for keeping us hydrated. I’ve never had so much water in a span of 5 days ever. Woot! New personal best!

 

Later on Thursday, the Kagemusha folks arrived and got straight to work! Thanks for coming, guys! Guy, Kate, Ben and Michael were a blast to hang out with and perform with. I would do it again in a heartbeat. And while I’m at it – Thank you to Asano Taiko US for shipping drums to Al Ain for us to use! They sounded amazing as always.

 

Friday was another day of rehearsals and drum moving strategizing, including a full dress rehearsal that night. The crew was so great and so careful with the equipment. They really worked hard for us. The sound crew was amazing as well. A mic was carefully strapped to each drum and finely tuned according to each player’s striking volume. The extra-amplified hits sounded really powerful in that stadium.

 

Saturday was game day. The Al Ain football club already had the title. This was their last game. We were part of the post-game celebration and trophy presentation. The trophy was brought in to the stadium from the sky via sky divers, by the way.  So cool!!! I must say that the show was pretty epic! We even got blasted from behind by streamers that we didn’t even know were going off, so it was a super surprise for all of us! Continue to scroll down for pictures of the trip.

 

Getting ready!

Getting ready!

 

Arrived in Dubai

Arrived in Dubai

Proper Hilton greeting - Juice, then Curry!

Proper Hilton greeting – Juice, then Curry!

Al Ain Stadium. Purple Seats!

Al Ain Stadium. Purple Seats!

 

Rehearsal night #1 - purple seats!

Rehearsal night #1 – purple seats!

Snacks were abundant and delicious. I learned so much about International sweets!

Snacks were abundant and delicious. I learned so much about International sweets!

Godiva in the US = Bateel in Al Ain. Fancy dates for days!

Godiva in the US = Bateel in Al Ain. Fancy dates for days!

TAIKOPROJECT always eats at Applebees on tour. I was bound and determined to find one. And I did. :)

TAIKOPROJECT always eats at Applebees on tour. I was bound and determined to find one. And I did. :)

Snow White? Is that you?

Snow White? Is that you?

Our last lunch was at Paco's at the Hilton. Pretty good.

Our last lunch was at Paco’s at the Hilton. Pretty good.

This picture was taken on the way out of Dubai International air port. Check out the tallest building on Earth!

This picture was taken on the way out of Dubai International air port. Check out the tallest building on Earth!

 

More pictures and videos will come in a following post. Thanks for reading!

 

On Saturday, May 9, we performed at Metamoris 6. We’ve performed at Metamoris fights before so we were happy to be back. This style of fighting is interesting because the winner isn’t based on points. Instead, the winner is determined by whoever forces his opponent to submission. There were seven fights throughout the event. We performed while each fight was going on. We performed really close to the fighters so we got a front row seat to watch the fight. It was interesting because each fight was really different and you could see how each fighter had his own style. I took a couple pictures of the fighters so you can see how buff these guys are.

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A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Well, let’s call it about 9 hours ago and 70 miles away…but you get the idea.  *cues sound guy to cut the theme music*

TaikoProject was invited to perform three school assemblies this morning for Vista Verde Middle School in Moreno Valley, CA.  For this show, we brought four performers instead of the usual five, so we had our work cut out for us, but the students were so excited that there was plenty of energy to go around.  The students and teachers were a very enthusiastic audience and one group of students was especially talented at our audience participation segment.  The taiko was strong with them.

Thanks to the Vista Verde Cougars for bringing us out!

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Before loading in

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Practice!

Vista Verde Cast

The Fantastic Four

 

Today, we performed to kick off Pepperdine University’s annual Loqui Celebration. Thank you to Kari, Bryce, and everyone else that helped put on a fantastic event! We hope you enjoy this little backstage photo gallery–

David, Liz, Maz, Blaine, and half of Bryan

David, Liz, Maz, Blaine, and half of Bryan

View from Backstage at Loqui

View from Backstage at Loqui

Bryan channels his photoshoot pose

Bryan channels his photoshoot pose

Blaine displays his pale calf

Blaine displays his pale calf

David demonstrates an innovative new stretch

David demonstrates an innovative new stretch

Liz is all smiles at Pepperdine

Liz is all smiles at Pepperdine

Maz is relaxed and ready to go

Maz is relaxed and ready to go

Playing taiko is hard work

Playing taiko is hard work

 

Hello Taiko friends!

Blaine here with a quick update on just about the fanciest school we’ve visited to date. . .

Last month we played a set for students at the Sage Hill School on the Newport coast.  We don’t visit high schools often, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but overall we were very impressed with the campus and their blackbox theatre.

 

When I was in High School, our drama stage was the gym floor with some risers. . . .

When I was in High School, our drama stage was the gym floor with some risers. . . .

 

So when we get in there, the sound technician asks if we want mics.  We’re thinking, sure, maybe one mic on a stand in the corner of the stage.  But what he means is that he can basically pull sounds from several mics planted around the stage, send it through the PA system, and essentially digitally control how sound reflected and behaved in the room.

 

Just before seats were filled

Just before seats were filled

 

Overall the set went great.  We had some kids up to try the drums, and they did well.  Only a few goofballs.

I hope we come back here sometime, it was a fun stage to play on.

 

-Blaine

 

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