Metro – Chicago, IL
The lights dim, music begins to play, red and white rectangles project onto the backdrop and the stage is empty, the musical instruments suspended on an empty stage. The Show is about to begin.
Atsuo Mizuno walks out wearing a gold studded vest (Drums) followed by Takeshi (Bass/Guitar) who’s ominous lean gangly form hints at something more sinister, last to enter from stage right is Wata (Guitar) the small primed girl who may have spent a while back stage dolling up her hair to a perfect feathered look that would make Ms Fawcett jealous. These, ladies and gents, are the three holy ghosts of rock, Boris.
A flood of smoke filters the air behind Takeshi, who’s set up between Michio Kurihara (touring member of the band, guitar, legend) and Autsuo. Wata, at the end, stands motionless staring at the strings on her guitar waiting for a signal. Atsou, seated between and behind his bandmates lifts up a stick, one end wrapped and padded in what i assume to be leather, points it towards the giant golden circle behind him and bangs on it. At the sound of the gong all three guitarist begin to play in unison and the venue explodes with sound. The Show has begun.
Before i go further i must relay an instance of the show that was one, if not the only negative experience that night. When going to see a band as eclectic as Boris you must be aware going in that you’re in for an experience that Jack of All-Trades would approve. Boris has been around for over 15 years and has been influenced by many different bands- to label Boris into one specific genre would be an offense to their artistic endeavor. They covered a handful of genre during their hour and a half set (no breaks!); Prog/Ambient/Drone Metal/Noise/Hardcore/Psychedelic/Stoner Rock. Yes, this vast list can be a bit jarring to some people and even to some fans: One Beefy 6’4” gentleman in particular made it his goal to vocalize his distaste for parts of the show during the slower experimental-distortion rock songs. Said individual also took the time to push his way through the crowd and aggressively scream “F*cking Hipsters, you’re all F*cking hipsters!” at the smaller framed meek looking concert goers. To you sir, this was a rock show with truly talented artist on stage, your prejudices were lost in translation that evening.
He stood on stage, a silhouette shadowed in front of an almost organic looking fog, with his duel bass/guitar, his long hair draped over his face and his voice (higher than and less aggressive than you’d normally expect when listening to music like this) flowing from somewhere within. Unable to see his face most of the show gave him the aura of mystery that should be a requisite from all great live acts. With the devil guitars and stoic stage presence its hard to believe they’re not yet playing stadium venues like many greats from the eighties. He’s the man the people will pump their devil horns in the air for.
The flamboyantly dressed drummer with skills that would put most American bands to shame; fast, furious and always on beat. Acting as back up vocalist as well, this man kept the crowd engaged, even though his proximity to the crowd was wider than the rest he was the man that looked out into the crowd made eye contact with individuals, acknowledging their support with wide-eyed facial expressions and high pitched “Whooo!” every time the audience rock-bobbed and moshed. Each time he did that the crowd reacted, they danced faster, pushed harder, jumped higher, and rocked stronger than before.
The third side of the triangle, and almost opposite to Atsou’s on-stage energy, but not to a fault. Where Atsou was almost comedic she was professional and staid on stage. Giving the audience a master-recording quality performance. During some of the experimental-prog tracks she put the guitar aside and stood up as lead vocalist. Her soft hypnotizing voice plus the breeze cooing from the venue fans tickling her hair brought magic to the stage. She’ll shred as good than the rest of them and look so much better doing so, bringing grace and regality to a regularly rough environment.
An hour and a half after the beginning of their set the band looks as fresh and vital as they did walking on stage. The last song lingers, the red and white rectangles are projected onto the stage background again and Atsou has finished his part for the night. The Guitarist continue on, distorting and playing with the many amazing sounds the string instruments can make while Atsou stands on top of his drum set, his drumsticks over his head like an ancient victorious warrior and rushes towards the crowd. His body disappears for a quick second, he caught the audience off guard, but quickly the drumsticks poke their way up and then his arm, then his head and another “Whoooo!” as he rides over the heads of the people who’ve given him and and his life so much energy that evening. Wata, Takeshi, and Michio continue to play their weird symphonic climax never missing a key and always adding and adapting to what everyone else is playing, giving the audience a performance until the very last not. Just like they begun they end abruptly, the venue turns into a vacuum, the lights shut down and Takeshi thanks the audience for their support before they walk off stage.
It was almost a performance piece, each character onstage giving their own personal expressive energies out onto the crowd, each voyeur taking something different from it. Perfect blend of showmanship, art, rock and perhaps even a little spirituality.
All hail the Japanese Gods of Rock!