Dhol Foundation

The Dhol Foundation Small

Festival Theatre, October 2nd

In their first Adelaide performance since headlining Womadelaide in 2004, The Dhol Foundation returned to our fair shores as part of this year’s OzAsia Festival.  Despite the long break, local support for the drumming outfit and their addictive blend of electronic Punjabi funk clearly hasn’t cooled, with palpable audience excitement from the get-go.

The high-energy, hands-in-the-air show was dominated by thumping drum beats and synchronised Bhangra grooves that were impossible to ignore.  Those lucky enough to score standing seat tickets were on their feet by the end of the first number, while those unable to stand bounced along in their chairs.

The Dhol FoundationLed by master of the dhol, Johnny Kalsi, the drumming quintet was supported onstage by tabla, drum kit, bass and guitar.  Almost synonymous with the double-sided barrel drum that lends the band its name, Kalsi is renowned for both his prowess on the skins and his work in popularising the art form.  In addition to talent, Kalsi brings cheeky humour and irrepressible charm to the party, easily connecting with the Adelaide audience and keeping them pumped up and laughing throughout. 

The show featured a mixed set of tracks from their first three albums and a few “special treats” from their as yet unreleased fourth album, Drum-tastic, which reveals the band experimenting with reggae influences.  Guest vocalist K.S. Bhamrah, a veteran of the UK Bhangra scene, wowed with amazing vocal performances.

The crowd happily welcomed him back a second time for a number featuring the tumbi, a single-string Punjabi folk instrument heavily featured in Bhangra music today.

Some sound issues aside, the only blemish on the show was the noticeable use of pre-recorded vocals and backing instrument tracks, which impacted on the “live” feel somewhat.  Likely down to limited funds and transport capacity on a relatively short tour, this will surely be rectified when Kalsi returns to Adelaide for Womadelaide in 2011.

Nicole Russo

5 Oct 2010