LIVE IN SAN FRANCISCO
October ·11 · 2017
Words by Fzz
Photos + Post by Corgam
We walked into The Independent without much expectations. I'd heard of the headliners Boris. I even did some homework prior to the show and listened to their latest 2017 album as well as the Pink album. Apparently -and embarrassingly- after running into a music friend at the show, I realized he had sent me youtube links of a couple of their albums. While those didn’t leave much of a mark after a single listen, this live show will definitely stick with me for a while due its massive auditory and visual stimulation. Opening for Boris were Endon and Sumac.
"Endon's vocalist is either heavenly gifted with a lack of pain-feeling ability, or is carrying
a set of vocal cords from hell"
The place is louder than usual. We come right into the middle of Endon’s set. Who is this band? These japanese dudes are causing the most ear damage. Such magnetic appeal! We walk directly to the stage, getting closer and closer to the amps, sacrificing our hearing for the sake of proximity. Beyond the seemingly experimental eeriness comes the visual symmetry. From stage right, we are facing a table of pedals conducted by one dude standing closely to the guitarist. Center stage sits the aggressively obnoxious drums that somehow are able to maintain a level of beauty which can easily fade in most highly technical performances. Towards the left of the stage, is standing the vocalist who is either heavenly gifted with a lack of pain feeling ability, or is carrying a set of vocal cords from hell. Finally, comes the second table of pedals accompanied by what I decided to refer to as “the purse”. I am not going to google this mad single (or maybe double) string, square-shaped instrument that graced us with its bassy sound on and off throughout Endon’s set. The mystery of the purse is as cool as its sound.
I couldn’t help but question my own on-top-of-thing-ness, how come I have not heard of Endon? Nevertheless, I am always ecstatic to be introduced to new sounds through a raging performance, void of expectations. While the vocal quality can be described as indistinguishable and almost unbearable, it definitely works for me. Vocal chords are just another instrument, another noise machine. There is no issue with using it as such. Words and ‘singing’ are overrated. Sometimes -a lot of times- I don’t want words, I want noise. What is this genre again? Where does it fit in the bill? Does the bill even fit at all? This show is already earning more points.
As Sumac is starting, I can hear a slight resemblance, or at least coherence between the first two acts. We make our way back to the front and at this point my face is only a few inches away from the bass drum. Yeah, we will definitely need earplugs for this one. I had seen Sumac previously during their first SF show at the Hemlock a year prior. Since then, I had forgotten their beautiful loudness, drumming madness and the transparency of their instruments reflecting their performance. Let me explain…
The trio throws themselves with all they have. It is genuinely loud, heavily airy, bluntly naked, and sparsely stoney. This latter characteristic glues the screams, the aggression, and the chaotic grooves perfectly together to form the sound of Sumac.
"Sumac's beautiful loudness, drumming madness and the transparency of their instruments reflects their performance"
Keep in mind that these are some exquisite yet aggressively jazzy drowning sounds that can go off tempo and back without the appearance of drawing outside the lines. They incorporate these metaphorical lines, make them theirs and beautify them by taking unexpected routes, this is where the jazziness manifests. Do not get me wrong, this isn’t your accessible experimental heavy music, this still required a somewhat trained or an innately nonjudgmental ear.
Their performance, much like their grey album is to be consumed atomically as one piece of work. Funny enough this requirement captured the audience in such a way that no moshing was involved. In fact, the audience is not here for physical release, instead it is here for the magnetism and to be the personified recipient of this wholesomeness.
We are getting to the end of this set, and my mind is already questioning the laws of the live show: the sets only get better as we get closer to the end of the show… we are in for a magnificent treat.
The mighty Boris are booting us with a prolonged drone hit, the kind you did not see coming, despite the full awareness of the generally sludgy reputation of their sound. The kind that makes you question whether you have been accidentally stuck in a moment of time, a moment within one musical note or between two. The amount of joy you are getting out of it that easily starts to fiddle with its expiration and you still do not know how to react. Is everyone else feeling this? Are all my fellow Boris virgins also wondering the same? Is this going to be the entire show or is this an intro?
Suddenly, this delightfully discomforting haze is shattered, no, it is heavily disrupted by the hands of this little creature with monstrous riffing abilities. The crowd awakes to ride the groovy waves away from the post apocalyptic land we were just roaming in, and at times admittedly desiring to flee from. This land that we'll revisit throughout the night. It is fascinating how Boris can fuck with you like that. This push and pull that doesn’t unveil its succulent hilarity until hindsight takes over and it is all faded and gone.
"Visually, this trio is equally as frightening as it is attractive"
Visually, this trio is equally as frightening as it is attractive. The vamp looking drummer in his warm dark flaps and eyeliner easily imposes his existence despite the large set of toms separating him from us. His performance is quite hypnotic to say the least. Not unlike their drony moments, you feel his presence hovering over the stage and beyond. He is dynamic, not limited by his drums, and will point his stick at us as a reminder of who is in control. Boris is in control.
"This live show will definitely stick with me for a while due its massive auditory and visual stimulation"
While I wouldn’t define their overall sound as strange, their tools are quite out of the ordinary. The riff lady is not only restricted to her string instrument. She droned us with an accordion and I had never ever expected this decor to take place. The incestuous hybrid guitar bass instrument worn by the bassist is quite impressive as well, although sound wise I didn’t notice much of an impact. The gong behind the drums can also seem banal these days but Boris makes enjoyable and not at all obsolete or overkill.
Vocally everyone is involved. We hear you all. We listen. We ride. And we go home satisfied, by the thrill of the aforementioned push and pull, the post apocalyptic voyage and the overall competency of Boris.