Somerville — When the lights go down in the theater, you hear them faintly, as if arriving slowly from a far away village, singing a call and response to the measured beat of the drum. The entrance onstage by the Royal Drummers and Dancers of Burundi is almost ritualistic, a slow procession of high kick steps. The performers, traditionally clad in red, green, and white, balance heavy, waist-high log drums on their heads as they move methodically to form a ceremonial crescent of 10 drums.
But after this somber opening to the acclaimed troupe’s World Music/CRASHarts presentation at the Somerville Theatre Friday night, the party began, and really never let up. And this one was one to wake the neighbors, a nearly nonstop barrage of thundering drums, chants, yips, and yells driven by an infectious exuberance and seemingly inexhaustible energy. It’s easy to see why this troupe helped spark the first WOMAD festival in 1982.