By Andrew Lentz
Published January 15, 2011
Photo: Dave Constantin
The Sabian Party at The Anaheim Sheraton kicked off promptly at 7:30 p.m. on Friday with Mark Guiliana, the New York-based drummer/composer who blew us away with his acoustic drum ’n’ bass insanity with his band Beat Music (uh, great drumm-y name, Mark). To be honest, we didn't know much about Guiliana – we were tipped off by Billy Rymer of The Dillinger Escape Plan, who was in the audience with his posse. Anyhow, watching Guiliana's ridiculously powerful feet crunching the hats unflaggingly at a painfully high BPM and executing a machine-like 6/8 – a kind of funk beat jacked up on meth – was a total trip. The uber-precision wasn't soulless though: Guiliana played with dynamics, nuance, and musicality even though his tense shoulders and pained expression looked like he was fighting it every step of the way. On top of that JoJo Mayer – clearly a huge influence – came out for an encore and the two dueted like long-lost double-drumming brothers.
We would have left the Sheraton content with Beat Music's set but fact is the main attraction was Chad Smith's side project, Bombastic Meat Bats. As antic as ever from behind a back-line Pearl Glimmer Of Oz kit, everyone agreed Smith was the most entertaining player they've seen since, well, the last time they saw Chad play. Dude's having a ball up there and it's hard to take your eyes off anyone so consumed by the drums. Despite the shameless mugging and usual clowning, Smith played with dynamics out the wazoo, mind-blowing power, and quite possibly, even more chops than he does with Chili Peppers.
The party was the perfect opportunity for Smith to plug his new Sabian Holy China, which he wacked mercilessy throughout the set. But this being Chad, he took the theme of Sabian's ad campaign one step further for the Meat Bats' finale and donned a minister's frock and collar while several Sabian staffers cloaked in nun's habits danced behind him on the riser like go-go girls. Guess the spirit of the music just overtook him.
We wanted to stick around and catch Walfredo Reyes with Sin Verguenza but we had to hustle over to the Supernatural party (no one heard of this cymbal company before a year ago and now they're hosting a NAMM blow-out. Go figure.) On the way out we bumped into Tomas Hakke of Meshugga with girlfriend in tow, and hanging at the bar with friends, none other that recent DRUM! cover boy Thomas Lang. To top if off we caught Rick Latham shredding like a mother with his band in front of a small-ish crowd seated on the ground (what'd they think this was Lillith Faire?). For a glorious minute and a half, Latham gave the assembled a bruiser of a solo.
And we thought last year's Sabian party with Steve Ferrone was off the hook!