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Boris @ Turner Hall Ballroom

Aug. 11, 2014

Aug. 12, 2014
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Photo credit: Sara Bill

When you take your band name from the lyrics of a Melvins song, people are bound to expect a certain kind of sound, but while experimental Japanese trio Boris delivers on the kind of sludgy, stoner-friendly avant-metal pioneered by King Buzzo and company, the band has also remained basically impossible to pin down for the bulk of their career, taking genre-bending to unexpected extremes. What’s more, they’ve been prolific. There have been more studio albums since 1996’s Absolutego than there have been years, the latest installment in their vast and ever-expanding discography being the well-received Noise, which came out back in June. Currently trekking across North America on their awesomely titled Live Noise Alive Tour in support of the record, Monday they took the stage at the Turner Hall Ballroom for an ear-splitting, but singularly entertaining, show.

The crowd was certainly on the small side yet still respectable for a niche act performing on a dreary Monday night, mostly a mix of just about every known species of heavy music enthusiast, plus a few people who looked like they maybe won free tickets and didn’t quite know what to expect. Not that anyone really knew what to expect from a band this prone to throwing curveballs, beyond that it would be loud and weird and probably employ their typically elaborate gear setup. Between drummer Atsuo attacking his translucent, elevated kit in front of a large gong, Takeshi shredding on a double-necked bass/guitar hybrid and guitarist Wata running her instrument through a complex system of effects, the three of them definitely have a unique stage presence in addition to musical chops.

Their set spun wildly through a bewildering array of eclectic styles, from the aforementioned doomy, pummeling metal to soaring prog, dreamy shoegaze, blasts of atonal dissonance and even some almost sentimental pop, all adding up to something that was more cohesive than it had any right to be. The selections from Noise were enjoyable but, in a way quite like seeing the Melvins live, it was less about any individual song and more about the performance as a whole, which after an hour and a half came to an abrupt and climactic end, with no encore to lessen the impact. Not that they needed one; although the audience would have happily stood for more, there was no disappointment when the house lights went up, since the band had already left a big impression.


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