Today saw the annual trip to Drumfest, this year to be held at the NIA arena in Birmingham. Excited as usual we made our way inside the arena to the most horrible sound I’d ever come across, loads of people playing the drums at the same time. Now that might seem a surprise coming from me, but it was unbearable. Half of the arena had been separated from the main stage and was covered by a sea of trade stands. The whole world and his brother seem to have arrived with a pair of drumsticks and was on a mission to hit anything in sight. The noise was horrendous! The stage was well set out with video screens on both sides and all the drum kits ready to play. It looked quite impressive with the back drop advertising the event, but the noise from next door carried through to the stage area.
The main reason I was there was to see Jo Jo Mayer once more, but other artists who were to perform included Jason Bittner, Gregg Bissonette, Carmine Appice, Jason Bonham and the incredible Simon Phillips. I was soon to be disappointed. John Thompson was to host the event and the first frustration of the day was you couldn’t hear him. You would have thought that PMT would of sound check everything before the start. This seems to have been over looked, but they came to the rescue with another microphone. That didn’t work either, so the intelligent one among them decided to try the volume…. There you go! Easy really!
Jason Bittner was the first to perform and what a player he is. He was to perform on a Roland Electric kit, which as pointed out by himself, wasn’t the kit he usually plays. This aside, he made a good job of playing two Shadows Fall songs apart from the same problem that John Thompson had, you couldn’t hear him in the mix. There was a few more problems that Jason had, but I can forgive him as he’d clearly been told to play this kit and wasn’t familiar with it. He did finish with a great solo using some of the triggers from the kit though.
The next disaster was the two musicians who played with Carmine Appice. I can’t remember their names, but then again neither could Carmine. Clearly they were guys from a PMT store who were lucky enough to play with him. Carmine was brilliant and still kept us entertained, although I’m sure he would have preferred to work with talented musicians.
Jo Jo was up next and we made our way to the seats at the back hoping that things had been sorted. To our delight, they had and Jo Jo sounded immense with some examples of music from Nerve, his solo project. I later caught Greg Bissonette playing some crazy Latin patterns and thankfully sounding great through the PA also.
My final moan was regards to the retail village. Great idea, but how did you expect me to find the cymbal that I wanted without a large stock in the first place? If you had of stocked it, I wouldn’t of heard it over the incredible noise. By this time I was disappointed and headed home. I missed Jason Bonham and Simon Phillips, but I guess I’ll catch them another time.On reflection I suppose Drumfest was okay. They could of sound checked the artists that were on first, but I guess we all make mistakes.
I think the biggest success story from this years Drumfest has to be the 582 drummers that broke the world record for the most drummers playing the same beat. It was all for charity and they raised a considerable amount of money for MS.