Reviewed on Friday June 21
The curtains drew back and a smoke machine hot-boxed the entire bar before Boris appeared onstage. Drummer Atsuo stood before a massive gong structure – the centrepiece of the stage – and struck it with his mallet to signify the beginning of the Boris ritual.
Silhouetted by red lighting and heavy smoke, Wata’s thin frame and Les Paul guitar was barely visible as she opened into the sludgy riff of ‘Huge’. To the right, the contours of a floating hand played Takeshi’s custom double-neck bass/guitar, until he moved into the light. Powered by enough cabinet amps to satisfy an outdoor festival, the sound was colossal. This is a band that in the past has shattered glass with their soundwaves alone. However, their guitars are down-tuned to such an extent that the low frequencies of their music keep one’s eardrums intact.
Moving into ‘Rainbow’ – a softer, psychedelic song – Wata took over on whispery vocals. Her electrifying fuzz-solo was met with great praise and devil horns. Then, almost antithetically, the fast-paced ‘Pink’, featuring wailing backing vocals by Atsuo, and renditions of ‘Vanilla’ and ‘Statement’ before we returned to vast open space with ‘Angel’ and ‘Cosmos’, and blissful use of Wata’s analogue tape-delay.
It seems everything up to this point was a warm-up for the highly anticipated performance of Flood in its entirety. As Wata opened into the delay intro, Manning Bar was ready. After the build up of ‘Part I’, the crowd fell silent throughout the lengthy, minimalist ‘Part II’. I have never seen an audience jolted like that before, and for me, it was the apex of their set. ‘Part III’ developed into a heavy drone, its texture thicker than anything prior, before fading into ambience at ‘Part IV’. To finish, Boris blasted into noise, as Atsuo battered the gong once again. The ceremony was over.
It might be said that in imposing notions of genre over a piece of music, we attempt to make sense of abstract noise. Doing so is a process of confirming our understanding and expectations, by which we seek guidance. Boris proves that no genre is self-contained. To experience Boris live is to be put under a sort of hypnosis, where the terms we employ to categorise music are no longer disparate; rather, they become an assemblage in constant flow. This band can do no wrong.
BY HARRIS MACKENZIE-BOOCK