Almost impossibly, Boris has been stretching out its style, cranking out albums nonstop, and playing super rad shows without disappointing its hardcore fans since it was formed in 1996. The Japanese band has mastered its unique takes on doom metal, ambient noise, psychedelic rock, and most recently, pop, while releasing limited-edition albums, splits, and singles that make record collector nerds sweat. Sharks were expected to be jumped when Boris released two albums at once (Heavy Rocks is heavy, Attention Please has J-pop influences) on a big U.S. label earlier this year but guess what? Both LPs ruled, and I couldn’t wait to hear how the pop mutations would sound live.
Opening the show were labelmates/tourmates Tera Melos. The Sacramento trio’s live sound is as complex and heavy as it is heavy and experimental, but never forgets to full-on rock. The balance and abundance of intelligence and energy was a great match for Boris, and a live set can be sampled at Daytrotter. Extra props for Freddy Krueger, literally.
With the addition of the aforementioned two new albums, Boris’s latest set is much different than that of the last few tours. No more “Rainbow,” for starters, but Wata’s fans got to hear her sing on new “pop” songs such as “Attention Please” and “Party Boy.” Compared to the version on (colored) vinyl, the tunes sounded extra stripped down, raw, and cool. And from the shadows on the other end of Takeshi’s double-necked bass, Kurihara’s tastefully sprinkled shredding added new wrinkles as well.
Atsuo’s time spent drumming on ambient and drone pieces has helped him lay low during the pop songs, but he was as amped as ever during the more driven songs like “8″ and “Statement.” His stick-pointing, gong-hitting, and fierce yelping energy is not posing but honest rock energy, and he lends the sludgiest, darkest songs exuberance. The ultra hot “1970″ and “Pink” leading into the cooling-out drone of “Aileron” was a perfect end to a dense, expertly played, and completely unironic set that sent us fans out into a crisp evening with pink clouds and a full moon.
Backtracking a bit, upon entering the club I had a chance to catch up with Kurihara–the unofficial fourth member of Boris and frequent collaborator with Damon & Naomi. I met him through my friends Naomi and Damon when I was selling merch for both bands on tour in 2007. I was especially happy to see him because (1) he says he’s doing well in post-tsunami Tokyo and (2) I’ve never seen Boris without his accompaniment on axe. He totally rips, and I can’t imagine what they’d sound like without him!