Anyone who subscribes to the stereotype about Japanese people always being quiet and unassuming has never seen a Japanese rock band. Last time I returned from a gig with my ears ringing the way they are now was after seeing Acid Mothers Temple a few years ago. Tonight it was the turn of Boredoms who drummed up an absolute storm in a sweaty, airless dungeon under the Student’s Union. Boredoms have been active since the mid-Eighties in various shapes and sizes, more recently working under variations on their name. Early albums were always experimental but tended to be nastily noisy with it. They really caught my attention at the end of the Nineties with Super Ae (1998) and Vision Creation Newsun (2000), a pair of drum-powered albums that owe a great deal to the “kosmische” atmosphere of the best Krautrock, especially Amon Düül II circa Yeti.
Tonight we had a great deal of the thundering cross-patterns of drum rhythms amended by some of the piercing extended crescendos found on VCN. Very loud and very powerful. There was some unusual instrumentation involved as well, including what appeared to be hand-held lightbulbs triggering samples and harmonised feedback, and also a rack of guitar necks (above) with what I assume must be open tunings given the way these were used as percussion devices. It was difficult to tell who was doing what (or using what) for much of the time due to the density of the crowd. But such details are beside the point, this was a tremendous performance that was overwhelmingly intense at times. It’s rare indeed to find a band still working at this peak after 21 years. Along with the very different performance by Machinefabriek in May, best gig of the year so far.