If you’re keen in the world of drums, whether you love watching geniuses max out their drum sets on stage, learning pro tips from experts or trying out kit from all of the major leading drumming brands, then the London Drum Show weekend at the Olympia Conference Centre in Kensington is something that you’ll love.
As soon as I stepped out of the elevator leading to the entrance, the spirit of drums hit me right in the face. There was a huge array of stands from different brands selling their latest gear, as well as an area where jamming sessions were taking place every two hours, where you can just turn up and play with up to four other players.
Naturally, there was an excessive amount of noise throughout the entire exhibition, so upon arrival, you’re given free foam ear plugs, as you will certainly need them. There was also a stand from a hearing protection brand where you can have ear plugs molded.
What I was most keen in seeing were the performances, and I was in the right place for being entertained.
First, I saw the brilliant Andy Gangadeen perform a fusion of electronic beats and acoustic charm. He played many live versions of tracks including 2 Chase & Status ones (the main group that he works with), which were ‘Flashing Lights’ and ‘Hocus Pocus’; these tracks and various electronic sounds and breaks were played through samplers and he added acoustic parts (including his top-end cymbals) over the top.
The next performance I saw was that of Rick Latham from the US, who busted out some classic funk fusion with his bass player (who’s name I can’t remember); a lot of rudiments that he used were inspired from artists such as Steve Gadd. He also gave some important tips on how to effectively use rudiments in your playing, as well as how to get your desired sound from your playing.
The performance after that came from none other than death metal legend Derek Roddy, also from the US. I had never properly heard death metal before and was surprised. It’s not just noise. It actually combines almost every drumming skill: rudiments, extreme durance, changing time signatures, just to name a few. He explained what practicing and playing metal drumming is like, saying how unlike most styles where you start slowly then speed up, in metal drumming you have to start fast from Day 1 to get your muscles used to the speed, and what speed it is. The main skill to master is hitting the kick drum at 400 BPM… Not easy. I was also very pleased that he mentioned that the modern music industry is, in his opinion, not about talent, but about getting money, and he mentioned how modern artists using drum machines in styles including metal completely get rid of the feel of metal as it should be. Everyone in the audience was pleased that he mentioned this.
There were also a number of masterclasses across the weekend, and I saw the legend Geoff Dugmore and his bass player (who’s name I also can’t remember) explaining how to become better at working with other musicians and getting yourself known. They explained that being a good musician does not mean that you are good by yourself; being a good musician means that you are good at working with other musicians effectively, creating a groove/tune that sounds catchy, not complex.
Today really inspired me to do better as a drummer and should inspire many others as well. If you want to feel part of a huge drumming community and see some amazing people, then don’t hesitate. Go to the London Drum Show.