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BAM! Percussion blasts Arden Theatre

By: Anna Borowiecki

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jan 22, 2014 06:00 am

READY TO WHAM – BAM! Percussion is promising a blast when it hits the Arden stage.
READY TO WHAM – BAM! Percussion is promising a blast when it hits the Arden stage.
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BAM! Percussion
Sunday, Jan. 26 at 2 p.m.
Arden Theatre
Tickets: $18/adults; $15/children; plus facility fees. Call 780-459-1542 or purchase online at

BAM! Percussion spokesperson Jean-Sebastien Dallaire chuckles that if he starts another troupe it will be a flute group.

As the Gazette caught up with Dallaire, he was walking out of the Gatineau, Quebec Home Depot carrying chunks of pressed wood in one hand, a cellphone in the other.

BAM! Percussion is about to start a western Canadian tour and Dallaire plans to make an extra 15 pairs of replacement drumsticks.

“How many we break during a show depends on the amount of energy we use. We’re not taking any chances,” he laughs, explaining that he cuts the shape and sands the tip so they don’t tear the drum skins.

In its 15-year history BAM! Percussion has visited the area more than once combining physical comedy with electrifying drum rhythms using conventional drums.

And they visit St. Albert’s Arden Theatre on Sunday, Jan. 26 with eXplosion, a show BAM! spokesperson Jean-Sebastien Dallaire promises will create a blast.

Audiences are drawn to the turbo-charged trio’s explosive drumming, hilarious miming and the unique BAM! nonsensical language.

Wearing spiky hair that makes them look as if they’ve walked straight out of a mad cartoon, they display a savage drumming virtuosity that defies their buffoonish image.

The drummers originally kicked off their careers at the 1999 Montreal Just For Laughs Festival.

“We met a crazy European who liked the show and invited us to Europe. There we met an Asian who invited us to Asia and it snowballed from there. The whole experience was one big accident. No way did we expect this kind of experience,” Dallaire explains.

Originally the troupe wanted to play drums in a serious vein similar to Taiko or Kodo drummers. But the percussionists’ sparring personalities quickly seeped into the drumming as comedic sketches.

“We didn’t know we were funny, but when audiences started laughing, we thought, ‘OK. We’ve got something right.’ And because of the comedy we have more success.”

Once on tour of seven African countries, comedy salvaged their routines. BAM! was invited to perform at a match-up festival with some of Africa’s best drummers. As the troupe stood backstage listening to spectacular rhythms, they cringed, realizing their drumming wasn’t quite on par.

In a self-mocking moment, the now deceased troupe member Steve Burman quipped to Dallaire, “We’re lucky we’re funny, because I’d break an arm if we weren’t.”

Over the years BAM! Percussion’s revolving door of artists has added lustre to the troupe’s reputation simply by mining their imaginations.

“We’ve created our shows the same way kids transform cardboard boxes into playthings.”

In addition to Dallaire, Vincent Boudreau and Krystina Marcoux create three theatrical characters with distinct personalities.

In eXplosion, Dallaire plays the “big showoff, the one who likes to be the centre of attention. Krystina is a little bomb of energy and Vincent has these amazing eyes that pop out. A lot of stuff he does is very subtle. His character is more dorky, but he’s still very energetic.”

Unlike Stomp, which is fairly improvised, eXplosion is structured and fine-tuned down to the millimetre.

“We’re not from an improvisational background. We’re from a music background.”

At this point, BAM! Percussion shows no sign of slowing down.

“This show has been around for 15 years. I keep doing it because people enjoy it. The show has nothing to prove and you won’t regret seeing it. We’ll give you a night to remember.”


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