…I almost don’t know where to start. Somewhere over a whirlwind weekend of new friends, amazing experiences, and 2500 miles of travel, I soaked up an awful lot of insight about the wide, wide world of drums and percussion.
My first PASIC was, as briefly as I can put it, truly incredible. It exceeded every expectation at every turn. I’ll go back as often as I can for as long as I can. You should too.
Ok, backtrack a little…
If you don’t already know: PASIC is the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, the world’s largest drum and percussion convention. Held annually, the event includes clinics, panel discussions, performances, an indoor drumline competition, a gear expo…
It’s drummer heaven.
I’m sure there’s stuff I’ll leave out, awesome bits of the convention that I totally overlooked, missed out on, didn’t even know where going down. There are a few things I wanted to catch but didn’t (usually for the sake of taking a few moments to eat). But that’s kind of the point – the thing is immersive and massive. You can fill every moment of your time there with something interesting – even if it’s just chatting with a fellow drummer for a few minutes.
Alright, that seems like a good enough place to dig in.
Strangers Aren’t So Strange
I’d never been to a convention of any type before, but now I feel like I get why they are so important, why so many different industries and niches and communities rally together to put them on…
Meeting strangers can be a little tough, even if you’re trying to be outgoing – but at a convention, you already have something in common. The ice is broken for you, simply by virtue of being at that place for that dedicated reason.
Every single person I struck up a conversation with was friendly, happy to open up, excited about being there, and ready to talk drums! In passing conversations, I chatted with:
• an 80 year old jazz player
• a young marimba player working for a sheet music printer
• a Marine Corps big band drummer
• a pair of Army marching snare drummers
• a middle aged rock drummer who just discovered Tony Williams
• an Australian session player and teacher traveling across America on “drum sabbatical”
…and plenty more I’m probably forgetting.
In each case, the conversation was natural and easy. We could talk gear, style, what we’d seen so far at the convention. We could compare influences and setup preferences. After the briefest introduction, it was like we were already old friends.
And I saw this happening everywhere – handshakes, new relationships forming. People of all ages, races, nationalities – men and women alike – smiling and comparing ideas and truly forming a community.
It’s a stark reminder of how vast this drumming thing is, how many far-flung corners of the earth it reaches, how many different approaches and experiences there are to this relatively similar thing…
We’re all connected in a fundamental way, simply because of this awesome family of instruments we play. Even when they’re at total opposite ends of the spectrum – say, a death metal blast beat player and a classically trained, 4 mallet vibraphonist – there are still SOME parallels, and at a place like PASIC, just being there shows your interest and dedication to the wider world of percussion… and music as a whole.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention – and thank – the awesome dudes I stayed with. I’ll link their Twitter handles here, and websites with some others at the end.
Jeromy Bailey, Jeff Vigness, Jeremy Schreifels, and Lee Krueger let me crash their group, treated me like a friend, and honestly, made it possible for me to afford lodging in the first place. I may have said “thank you” way too many times. I meant every last one. These guys were central to my PASIC experience, and great to hang and talk music with too!
Just being there was overwhelming – to see the spectacle of the thing, and to interact with so many people I’d never so much as laid eyes on.
Like the welling feeling I get from walking around the first day of a music festival, smiling like an idiot because it’s all just so incredible unfolding in front of me.
And that’s not even getting into the Expo Hall, the convention center itself, or the clinics… Oh man, the clinics.