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Boredoms @ the Crystal Ballroom 03.20.08

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Whoever said expectation is the mother of disappointment obviously never saw Boredoms in concert. I had been a fan since Vision Creation Newsun and was not going to let inclimate weather and a debilitating case of asthma ruin seven years of anticipation. My ignorance of both rain and health was rewarded by an hour and half of mind-melting, eardrum rupturing bliss.

 

I never thought I'd see them live, so I was not going to let circumstance ruin opportunity. Since their return from hiatus in the early 2000s, their preformances were limted to Japan and a few festival dates. I envied those lucky enough to witness last summer's Boredrum77 event in New York, assuming that to be the extent of their American commitments. News that they were appearing in Portland was certainly exciting, but I had only had a rough idea of what they sounded like live. Being an enthusiast of the band, it would have been hard for them to disappoint me. I didn't expect them, however, to live up to all the superlatives cast on them.

Group leader Yamataka Eye began their set by summoning layers of shrieking noise. He controlled the din by waving two glowing orbs that modulated the sound according to his body movement. The rest of the band, who all played drums, pounded their cymbals to make a deafening hiss. It reminded me of the an essential truth of percussion, that every beat is band of frequencies constrained by echo and resonance, not notes and scales. Drumming is oldest noise music around.

The band built up tension for minutes, letting the cacophony reach critical mass. Then, like a rubber band snapping  back into shape, the drummers launched into a propulsive, motorik rhythm. The pace rarely slackened from there on out. Occasionally, the tempo would slow, allowing spacious electronic washes to crash onto the audience until the beat picked up again.

For someone with such an intuitive, anti-musical philosophy, Eye heads a tight, professional sounding band. The drummers followed his lead exactly, which didn't seem easy. He ran around the cluttered stage screaming, ululating, reaching up the ceiling in evangelical exhortations. Drummer Yoshimi Pe-we would occasionally brake from her kit to harmonize with him, or play lightning quick pentatonic runs on a fuzzed out synthesizer. Her performance was more understated than when I saw her last year with OOIOO, but no less engaging.

By any sane definition, Eye's electronics were loud and abrasive, but they were anything but dour or oppressive. Everything about the music suggested joy and an affirmation of life, the intensity and volume of the music being a symptom of overflowing positivity. Being so tired and sick, I was in no way prepared for such a long, demanding performance, but none of that seemed to matter in the moment. The music was filled with so much energy and potential, I felt like new man.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 May 2009 12:11  


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