Japanese noise / punk / kraut / space / future rockers Boredoms played last night at Terminal 5, and it was absolutely amazing. I wrote about their (also absolutely amazing) 77BOADRUM event in these pages this summer, but I think it's worthy to write about last night's concert because, well, every time they play is an...absolutely amazing and inspiring event.
Terminal 5 is a well-designed space, and the non-ground floors offer plenty of front-row rail access good for leaning over and catching the action below from. But the spectacle last night pushed Terminal 5's (considerable) capacity to its limits. Every floor was packed, and I stretched nudge muscles I didn't know I had trying to get a direct line of sight to see the band below.
Every Boredoms concert is an explosive exploration of ideas in
music, with lead Bore EYE literally turning everything we know about song structure inside out and puking it up in a perfectly-orchestrated space of time. The sound itself is an exercise of controlled and
beautiful explosions: at the beginning of
each performance, Eye summons some sort of powerful otherworldy being
into existence on the stage via two glowing orbs that he swings around
in the midst of ecstatic shouts and song, creating miraculously glitchy
lightning crashes. Three drummers pound away cyclic and ever-changing
rhythms that build and collapse on themselves, only to reveal more
complex rhythms that you're surprised you didn't heard before. The
centerpiece of Boredoms' round stage is a disembowelment and
re-construction of 7 purple guitars called the Sevena, built by Boredoms "sub-member" and DMBQ guy Masuko. Eye treats it as a percussion instrument, hitting it with a broomstick, using such force that it must be anchored in place by a steel crossbeam and
two assistants to make sure the fucking thing doesn't topple over in
the course of the performance. Eye makes it his business to play the
perfectly-tuned (and re-tuned, and re-tuned) strings off of the instrument, and when they finally
walked off the stage, only a few strings remained -
all but destroying the Sevena in the process. A few minutes into the set as I watched Eye spazz out across the stage, I noticed - this guy is in a motherfucking CAST. After seeing that, in a move I'll probably regret later, I took my earplugs OUT towards the end of the show to experience what was going on in a more direct manner. I didn't need my eardrums anyway.
Like Boredoms' sonic exploration of temporal space, Cai's mid-career
retrospective features controlled explosions into three
dimensional space: cars suspended in the atrium of the museum in
bomb-like stop animation, as well as a pack of 99 wolves racing to meet
their fate at a Berlin Wall-shaped piece of glass and an ancient ship overflowing with shattered porcelain dishes and statuettes. Cai's signature works involve brilliant,
gigantic-scale gunpowder explosions over the skylines of cities all
over the globe, and there's stunning video of the works also on exhibit
throughout the museum's upwardly-spiraling corridors. In his two-dimensional works, He also "paints" in gunpowder, igniting it over paper so that it casts a charred shadow of what the work is dealing with.
In a very basic sense, to me at least, Boredoms and Cai both represent humans from the superpower nations of today and tomorrow coming to America and giving us the most terrifyingly gorgeous weirdness they've got to offer. They both do a lot of destruction in the process of creation. Importantly, they're both bringing the best of their nations to people here in a way that threatens only in one sense: to explode your notions of what is possible in the worlds of art and music.
Also importantly, they're doing things that simply aren't compatible with the internet. No matter how many pictures, videos, or sound clips I post here, there's no way you could ever even close to conveying the smell of gunpowder on a canvas or to feel the energy of a crowd in tune with ecstatic rhythms. In a world where everything of note is insta-editorialized (like this!), both Boredoms and Cai require direct physical contact and interaction with their work in a way that will never be replicable by ones and zeros.
I think it would be a fantastic shame if the Guggenheim didn't play host to a Boredoms event at some point in the future. Regardless of how you feel about the architecture, I'm positive they could use the space in a way that transcends everything that has ever happened there before (which includes a lot of crazy shit, like Agnostic Front and Murphy's Law playing dueling shows over the New York Hardcore logo, which had been etched onto the floor as part of Matthew Barney's Cremaster 3 Film and exhibition).
America has a lot to be wary of in China and Japan at this point in time, but with people like Boredoms and Cai around, we're bound to be able to figure SOMETHING out in the heat of tense moments. Their explosions are, thankfully, something that no one can disagree with.
Go see Boredoms if you can, you will NOT regret it, I promise!!
To see more of my pictures from the event, go here. To listen to an all-Boredoms set I played this morning, go here. To read a really great new interview with Eye, go here.