Yesterday 77BOADRUM happened - Yamatsuka Eye of Boredoms in the center of 77 full kit drummers, coming together to form "one giant instrument, one living creature" at Brooklyn Bridge Park.
If you've ever seen a Boredoms show, that's kind of the general idea of how things went, but much, much bigger and more wonderful. Eye and Boredoms Yo, Yoshimi, and Senju were in the center on a stage with the three drum kits facing towards the very center, where Eye was controlling effects on the drums and vocals. He also had 8 horizontal guitar-like instruments that he mostly controlled by hitting them with a broomstick or some sort of three-pronged sceptre.
Like all of the most beautiful days, it threatened to rain through much of the afternoon, but didn't. Somebody told me that 10,000 people RSVP'd for the event. That's a lot. Lines stretched down two blocks to get into the park, but luckily two lovely ladies from the Sapporo beer company were passing out hand fans to sweaty line-waiters. Here I am with them inside the park! (Just showing off a little bit here)
In the beginning, drum movements began with Eye and radiated throughout the spiral, which included people like Hisham Bharoocha of Black Dice (he was also the music director), Jim Black, Tim DeWitt of Gang Gang Dance (who DJ'd before the event), Andrew W.K., Miggie from Blood on the Wall, Matthias Schulz from Holy Fuck and Enon, Aliana Kalaba from We Ragazzi, Jim Abramson from Dymaxion...I could go on, but here is a really complete list. Kind of a who's-who of the right-now in a certain-place.
In addition to the movements that started out in the center, other movements came from drum leaders in other parts of the circle. There were these spiraling-out movements, but also a lot of periods of synchronicity where everyone was banging out the same ecstatic rhythm. The 77th drummer was Brian Chippendale from Lightning Bolt. This guy, like all of the 77 drummers, was totally INTO IT. I can't imagine any of these drummers participating in a more important drumming event in their lives, and that's the kind of energy that they put into it.
There is a lot a lot a lot to say about 77BOADRUM, and I'm certainly not going to try to say it all here. But I will say that it was a testament to what kinds of things can happen with a big vision and a lot of hard work. There were very few people kind of sitting passively at the edges - most people were staring, getting huge smiles on their faces when the biggest crashing moments of sound happened. There was none of the cynicism that pervades a lot of strange music; the feeling was completely awestruck and inspiring - the ground of the entire park shaking in unison to the beat of these Japanese visionaries, the only group of people in the world who could have brought together 77 drummers and their kits (and 10,000 other people) and fend off rain and bring it all together in such a perfect way. Know what I mean? The kind of gigantic jolt that people need to push them forward and make them want to do things bigger and better, something that goes beyond experimental and gets in to being almost poppy and summer-festival-ish in its scope and execution. It's not too absurd to think something like this could tour the country and not bankrupt all of the participants.
As double-decker tour buses crossed the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges and pleasure steamboats floated by in the East River, I could only imagine what the tourists on them could have thought they were looking at as they saw (and heard) "the 77 boa drum coil like a snake and transform to become a great dragon!" as Eye put it in the brochure. I hope they were thinking WHOA! AWESOME! DRUM SPIRAL! which is not something a lot of other weird music events can do to, you know, outsiders. So yeah, I think people will remember what happened yesterday for quite some time. Thanks Boredoms! You guys RULE!