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Monday, August 11, 2008

88 Drummed, Saber Tooth Undug

posted by on August 11 at 18:36 PM


On 8/8/08, 88 drummers played for 88 minutes at the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles and in Brooklyn on the Williamsburg waterfront. The name they give the event / piece is “88 BoaDrum” and it began at what time? 8:08 PM. Lead by the Japanese psych rock band Boredoms, the drummers played full drum kits arranged in a spiral formation. Onstage in LA, under a clear sky, Boredoms were the spiral’s center. Yamantaka Eye conducted by banging colored polls into his seven fretted guitar tower. I was on the outer shell of the spiral, right next to the crowd, drummer 56, and the 88 minutes were a blur.



It went off. It was on. It was epic and singular and multiple in its armada of fury.

88 drummers playing at the same time, the volume was sheer. Loud enough to rouse the saber tooth tiger fossil found in the tar pit years ago. The beast the drummers raised sat there in the air, listing and leaning as I had hoped. Prowling. We, the 88, banged it home. That many drums playing together sound like a march toward war. But there was no war. These drums were banged for unison, for numerology, for eternity. However eternal that is.




In the Asian culture 8 is an auspicious number. It’s pronunciation sounds similar to a word that means “prosper.” There are also ties of the 8 to the eternity symbol of the sideways 8. Whatever the meaning and reason, there was no way to get around the bigness of the sound. No way to just play or watch without being taken in. No way to be unaffected.

I had a clear sight line to EYE. And Yoshimi. Yoshimi hits the drums with huge, roundhouse strokes which make it easy to follow her. There were points when I was lost. One glance toward Yoshimi and I was back again. It was strange to make EYE contact with EYE. His energy and mind come from someplace other than here.

EYE’s blue poll meant make an accent (hit a cymbal) and keep playing the rhythm. Red meant hit a cymbal and stop. The white poll, which looked like a trident, meant go nuts, or free form. Instructions for the white poll were, “Please play strong and powerfully.” The rhythms began with Boredoms in the center and grew out sequentially around the drum spiral. The rule was to follow the drummer to your right for the pattern and follow EYE for tempo and volume swells.



EYE said, “Last year’s 77 drum event in New York on 7/7/07 had such an impact on me I thought we should do it again. It is very enjoyable to be a part of such a large, plural, and united sound. There are so many drummers here, each with their own version of making the beat. I am honored. I want them to hear us in Osaka.

Loud it was. As the beats made their way around the spiral you could feel them as much as hear them. Audience members were right behind the drummers and there was much interaction. Snare rolls ebbed and flowed like tides and 4/4 beats washed into cymbal swells. Then a white poll came out. Poseidon EYE with his Trident - and the drum world exploded 88 different ways. With all the vibration and noise, I was worried about setting off the San Andreas fault underneath LA, but the earthquake remained on the tar pit skins.


The 88th drummer, last in the spiral, was Zach Hill from the band Hella. The 88th drummer is a power position because that drummer needs to be able to hold the pattern the longest. Zach is powerful indeed. He’s as loud as twenty drummers. He and EYE were in eye contact communicating the end of each movement and the end of the piece. His volume alone roused a leg of the tar pit saber tooth. Zach said, “Ultimately the 88 BoaDrum is inspiring. It’s inspiring to be a part of. The pureness of the energy is inspiring to the crowd as well as the drummers. I think the drums are an under-celebrated instrument. See you in 09.”





(Pictures by Angela Dawn Photo)

RSS icon Comments


Pretty cool once-in-a-lifetime event. Nice work brother.

Posted by Jeff | August 11, 2008 9:45 PM

Good work, MoreMan! Wish I could have felt it.

Was this possibly recorded?

Posted by paulus | August 11, 2008 10:02 PM

thank you, thank you 4 this beautiful report. wish I was there.

Posted by KELLY O | August 11, 2008 10:49 PM

Hey! You know, they recorded the hell out of it. I gotta search and see if there's any links. They did audio and video. Multiple camera's and mics placed at points throughout the spiral.

I found a cool Giga zoom picture thing here where you can zoom in and see with detail. Pretty cool:

Posted by trent moorman | August 12, 2008 12:04 AM

Thank you Trent! Yes, I flew down to see this. I'm really glad I did. Boredoms are the best modern krautrock band today, and also fun avant composers, up there with Rhys Chatham and Glenn Branca.

I liked how the performance didn't end with a bang but fizzled out calmly... in a way, the show was like a drawn out live simulation of Amon Duul II's Yeti.

To be honest, just musically speaking, I thought the March Boredoms show was better, but Boadrum was a very different, "greater" thing as far as spectable, different POVs, community, setting, numerology, etc.

Also, this being Nike sponsored and being in L.A., I thought there would be lots of security/promo clusterfuckery, but it was actually really subdued. So with obvious thanks to the Boredoms and performers, thanks to Nike and Los Angeles County Museum Of Art for also making this possible.

Posted by mackro mackro | August 12, 2008 8:53 AM

i can't believe i forgot to ask you about this when i saw you at the kexp bbq. this is/was a huge deal.

Posted by ndrwmtsn | August 12, 2008 10:18 AM

I have a whole bunch of video where I interviewed as many of the drummers as I could and asked them 'why are we doing this'. I'll put it up when I edit.

EYE wrote and said, '88DR was so wonderful.'

Mackro, I'm curious, where was the best perspective to see it? Did you get up on the hill? I kind of felt bad for the dude who's head was right next to my floor tom. I would think that hill woulda been the place to see it, and watch the different beats ripple around the spiral.

Posted by trent moorman | August 12, 2008 10:28 AM

Here's a vid. Thank you to outerspacedotcom. It's from one perspective. But a decent approximation of what went down.

Posted by trent moorman | August 12, 2008 11:28 AM

Trent@7. I think the number of good ways to experience 88 Boadrum outweighed the bad, but I think the worst positions were certainly right against the periphery, for the exact reason you stated. Why would someone want to hear just 2-3 drum sets in one's face when one could easily walk back about 50 feet or more and hear far more? (Aside from taking pictures, which wasn't banned but was publicly discouraged by EYE himself.) I stayed in one spot the entire time, not on the hill, but flat, looking right at Wilshire Blvd behind the center stage.

That said, I had friends who really enjoyed walking around circle well outside trying to hear it in a multi-panamoric way, meeting happy characters along the way. If I had a second chance to see this, this is what I would have done.. however the whole concept of any given Boadrum is that you can't really experience the same exact one twice. Choose a method. Then share the story with others afterward.

Posted by mackro mackro | August 12, 2008 12:03 PM

Actually I take back my last statement. It COULD have been performed twice on August 8th. 8:08am and 8:08pm.

But I think the drummers would have been a bit frustrated and tired with that schedule. :)

Posted by mackro mackro | August 12, 2008 12:07 PM

awesome t-stack. the coolest thing you've done since you met guytano?

Posted by bosch | August 12, 2008 12:14 PM
12 has an AWESOME video.

Posted by goo | August 12, 2008 2:11 PM

Angela's work is always impressive. Keep it up, Lady!!!

Posted by Blush Photo | August 12, 2008 4:24 PM

I wish I could have been there, looks very cool from the photos.

Posted by drheavy | August 13, 2008 12:56 PM

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