Friday, April 4, 2008

Boredoms at Terminal 5 [03.30.08]

I attended this concert, in part, for my Music of East Asia class (which focuses primarily on Japan). The following is adapted liberally from my essay. I added in footnotes in spirit of an academic paper.

"Boredoms are like a moon on a lake. Only there is no moon and no lake. Only Boredoms." This quote from Yamataka Eye, the fiercely dreadlocked leader of the described Japanese noise collective, has been circulated amongst fans for so long that its origins are unclear, magnifying the enigma of Eye’s words. The history of the band also echoes this mysteriousness, as Boredoms have evolved from their brash “acid-punk” “spastic chaos-rock period” to their more spiritual, trance-inducing sun-worshiping period [1]. This mysteriousness is also, in a sense, fitting, as those who have not experienced the band before may find it hard to situate Boredoms as a Japanese band, as a modern band, as musicians [2].

Boredoms, also consisting of Yoshimi P-We, Yojiro and Muneomi Senju, played in the round in the middle of the audience area, providing an intimate setting in an otherwise cavernous Terminal 5. This set up also allowed startling perspectives for those watching from the balconies; the centrality of the setup could only be fully appreciated from above [3]. From the third floor, I watched intensely as Eye began in darkness, harnessing two lights in his hands. As he brought them together, static, glitches and booming engines sounds blasted through the sound system. It was like looking in on a tribal ritual – indeed, Eye was yelping and screeching like a shaman – fittingly echoing the mystery and spirituality captured in the abovementioned quote. The overture led into an unrelenting chorus of tightly synchronized drumming (three drummers!), Eye’s seven-necked guitar (played percussively!) and Yoshimi’s intermittent keyboard and foot-piano (!). Considering the different sounds (distorted through complex-looking consoles) and thunderous volumes, the result was unexpectedly orderly and melodic. There was an intense physicality that connected audience to performer. It was like peering onto an unfamiliar ceremony – I can’t necessarily translate all the words, but I felt the significance of the experience. Boredoms totally seized my attention. I stopped noticing the headbangers or the people dancing or the crowd. For the intense, two-hour marathon of drums and noise, it was only Boredoms.
1. For more details on their extensive history, see Kevin Hainey’s “TIMELINE – Boredoms: The Art of Noise.”
2. Paul Hegarty’s Noise/Music: A History (New York: Continuum, 2007) provides a detailed discussion on this matter. Also a worthy read, "Full of Noise: Theory and Japanese Noise Music."
3. An even more extreme example of benefits of an aerial view comes from Boredoms’ 77Boadrum performance on 7/7/07. I watched the drum circle from the Brooklyn Bridge while other Loose affiliates were lucky enough to be on ground-level.

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