by Jeff Kirby
on Tue, Aug 24, 2010 at 2:48 PM
In his Up & Coming, Brian half-jokingly talked about “The cult of Boris.” As of last night, I had yet to drink any of the Japanese Kool-Aid, but several of my friends have, and they seem pretty stoked about it, so I figured I might as well give it a try. The thing about Boris is they have a lot of records. Their musical output over the last fifteen years has been pretty staggering, and I’ve been slowly making my way through their massive discography for a while now, and I’ve enjoyed a lot of it. They are a band that plays many styles, and through I really dig the skuzzy, blaring rock of Pink and Akuma No Uta, I find the noisy drone of Amplifier Worship and Feedbacker to be borderline torturous. That said, I had no idea what kind of live set the band was going to pull out, but I was ready to have my patience tested, and I thought I familiar enough with their catalog to have a general idea of what they were playing.
Turns out I didn’t have any idea what they were playing. The most recent record of theirs I‘m familiar with is Smile, and I’m not sure they even played anything off of it. I hadn’t heard their newest split with Ian Astbury, but listening to it now I’m not sure they played any of those songs either. What Boris offered was a completely different type of band than I had expected, but one with a pretty exceptional stylistic range. Their opener was thick with heavy open chords, and after a few minutes Takeshi’s pair of Sunn Model Ts blew out their power source. Their second song was soft and lightly jazzy, almost like a Yo La Tengo track, with Wata lightly crooning until Michio Kurihara ripped an incredible feedback solo that sounded like he was strangling the notes out of his guitar. After that they played a huge space rock song with the an unrelenting breakneck drumbeat behind it, repeating and slowly building more noise over what felt like seven or eight minutes. They followed that with what I can only describe as a 90s alternative arena rock song, the kind of song that makes you remember why you liked the Smashing Pumpkins so much so long ago, the kind of song I had no idea Boris had in their repertoire.
After this, they brought it way down, giving the drummer a break and playing a long, somber song with two repeating guitar chords and a minimal drumbeat. It wasn’t that the song was bad, but this is where I found my patience start to get tested. It would seem, though, the band has all this planned out, as two songs later they ripped into “Pink” and got the adult-mosh pit all riled up. This is still my favorite side of Boris, the one where they all shred and really let their monstrous amp set-up do work. After three of their more blazing numbers they brought the energy down one final time, but only to remind the crowd how loud their amps can actually get. The finale was a sonic explosion, a massive wall of power chords and guitar squeals that sounded like a spacecraft self-destructing. I can see how for some this is religious experience — the effect leaves you feeling shaken to your core, almost dizzy, and full of awe. I’m not sure if I’m quite ready to drink the Kool-Aid, but I’m definitely willing to catch another service.
I regret that due to work I was unable to make it to the show in time to see Helms Alee open for such a huge crowd, but I offer them my congratulations nonetheless. They will be opening for Boris on the rest of their US tour, and no band in Seattle deserves the honor more than they do. I heard they killed it last night, I even heard it said they were better than Boris, and I’m sure that could very well be the case. Here’s to hoping they turn heads all across the country.