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Boris - Ottawa, 13/7/2008

  by Andrew Carver

published: 31 / 7 / 2008

Boris - Ottawa, 13/7/2008


Andrew Carver at the Babylon in Ottawa finds hearing loss to be a worthwhile price to pay while watching a deafening set from Japanese psychedelic band, Boris

Sunday at Babylon means ‘Mod Night’, starting at 11 p.m.,with DJs spinning soul and R&B tunes as well as every Who, Action and Small Faces song known to man to a crowd clad in red-white-and blue. It was a different story at 7:30 p.m. On Babylon’s knee-highstage were several Marshall and Orange cabs, forming a veritable wall of wattage. Atop them sat heads from Marshall, Orange, Peavey and Sunn. Behind them were yet more amplifiers. Sandwiched between them: A gong. The promoter was selling earplugs at the door. There have been many shows in Ottawa where earplugs were essential. In this case, not only did they protect the delicate membrane dubbed the ear-drum, they also provided extra bracing to stop one’s ears being ripped clean off one’s head. The opener was Chicago quartet Nachtmystium, which has gathered a fair amount of attention outside black metal circles lately. The entire genre is earning wider respect in underground music circles, and the band themselves has garnered appraisals from such tastemakers as Pitchfork with their latest. Their sound undoubtedly edges closer to the metal mainstream- monstrous riffs remind one of High On Fire, as do they barked vocals. Torche kicked out an enormous racket as well. They may have been the loudest band on stage. They started off with a double jump and began laying down slabs of rock. Something about their onstage demeanor makes me think they have a background in hardcore punk - and it's not just the short haircuts on three-quarters of the band. Maybe it was singer-guitarist Steve Brooks' Cheshire Cat grin. While this was an awesome performance, there was something missing: I couldn't hear any vocals at all, a real shame considering how good Brooks sounds on record. Well, they don't have any shortcomings as an instrumental group. Their drum-kit demolishing finale was fun as well. Finally, Boris came on to wreak destruction. A smoke machine is an essential part of a Boris set, along with classic rock histrionics, drummer Atsuo Mizuni going 'woo!' into his microphone at every opportunity and, of course, the gong. They only had an hour and 15 minutes -about the time it would take to play ‘Flood’ in its entirety - but they still managed an impressive romp through such killer tunes as the mighty ‘Floorshaker’ off ‘Rock Dream’, the title track of ‘Pink’ and a generous helping of tracks from their latest album, ‘Smile’: ‘Statement’, ‘BUZZ-IN’ ‘Ka Re Ha Te Ta Sa Ki’, ‘Laser Beam’ and ‘My Neighbour Satan’. As a bonus to fans of Japanese psychedelic titans Ghost and White Heaven, guitar god Michio Kurihara was with the band for this tour. His two Fender Deluxe Reverbs looked a little diminutive next to the rest of the band’s towering backline, but that made no difference to the enticing drones he coaxed from his Gibson SG knockoff with an e-bow or his trademark quick silverlines. He and diminutive Boris axewoman Wata provided a bastion of stability at either end of the stage while singer and front man Takeshi alternated between guitar and bass on his double necked instrument, howling and bending all the while. The show ended with a thorough workout of ‘You Were Holding An Umbrella’ and drummer Mizuni posing on top of his kick drum before surfing out over the crowd. Never has so much hearing loss been so worth it.

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Boris - Ottawa, 13/7/2008

Boris - Ottawa, 13/7/2008

Boris - Ottawa, 13/7/2008

Boris - Ottawa, 13/7/2008

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