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The big bam boom of Recycled Percussion

Garbage in, spectacle out

"Junk rock" band Recycled Percussion performs live at The Washington Center March 22.

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There are times when it falls on the Weekly Volcano to shatter pop-cultural myths. This, we're sorry to say, is one of those occasions. No matter what the preternaturally effusive judges on America's Got Talent claim, they aren't always the discoverers of brand-new artistic geniuses. Last year, for example, contestants included Wendy Liebman, a comic who'd already guested on The Tonight Show and The Late Show with David Letterman. In 2009, third place went to Recycled Percussion, a "junk rock" band out of Manchester, New Hampshire. What host Nick Cannon neglected to mention is the quartet had already been performing for 15 years. Justin Spencer launched Recycled Percussion for a high school talent show. In 1999, a mere four years later, they appeared on the cover of USA Today. They played NBA and NFL halftime shows and toured college campuses for the decade before their NBC appearances. They didn't just seem polished; they were.

The judges on AGT often crow about the Vegas run that awaits first-place winners. In reality, that enviable gig isn't limited to seasonal champions. The dudes of Recycled Percussion converted their bronze medals into three months at Planet Hollywood, popular runs at the MGM Grand and the Tropicana, and an ongoing show at The Quad Resort and Casino.

Still, don't let TV chicanery dissuade you from seeing Recycled Percussion live in Olympia. That's just show biz, folks. And what a show: it uses buckets, trashcans, ladders, and power tools to generate pure primal energy. Yes, it's comparable in some ways to bigger-tickets acts like Blue Man Group or Stomp. But do the azure-meloned maestros in Blue Man Group hand out instruments so every audience member can participate? Alas, they do not.

For a hell of a lot less than the cost of a plane ticket to Nevada, you can see four guys who still have the same enthusiasm as, but decades more experience than, any game show wannabe. Throw in acrobatics and a fair amount of drumstick juggling, and you've got one of Vegas's top acts right here in the South Sound. Though much of "reality TV" is nothing of the kind, it's absolutely true that the drummers of Recycled Percussion are incredibly talented guys who deserve every gig that's come to them since 2009. Of course, TV does add a few inexplicable twists of fate. It makes sense, for example, that operatic soprano Bárbara Padilla made AGT's top three that season, but how she and Recycled Percussion won fewer votes than Kentuckian warbler Kevin Skinner remains an enigma for the ages.

RECYCLED PERCUSSION, 5 p.m. Sunday, March 22, Washington Center for the Performing Arts, 512 Washington St. SE, Olympia, $15.50-$38, 360.753.8586

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