Any other communal sweating, fist-pumping, and shouting in Denver
Boris makes no sense. Literally, the band sings their lyrics in Japanese, but how four people can create so much noise and power simply defies explanation. The even crazier fact remains that all the noise they make has depth and perfect timing to it: nothing gets out of hand, every note resolves, even if that resolution comes after three minutes of feedback.
Their set, like their music, seemed to read the audience perfectly. The screaming crowd (Torche, who we profiled on Thursday, couldn’t believe how “rowdy” they were), wanted action right away and got it, with a long fiery song begun by drummer Atsuo’s giant gong. After extreme punishment for a close to forty-five minutes, just as everyone in the pit seemed to be reaching their limits, the band, which also featured Michio Kurihara, played an extended version of their dreamy collaboration “Rainbow”. Kurihara, who tours with Boris but seldom records with them, added delicacy and subtle power to the heaviness of every song, but on “Rainbow”, he played a solo that made the entire pogoing crowd silently stop and just nod. Boris’ lead guitarist Wata also contributed her subtle, almost deadpan vocals to the song, which contrasted well with lead singer and bassist Takeshi’s typically soaring phrases.
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Photo: Sean Sullivan Wata from Boris
Then they returned to the heaviness. When many other bands nearly like Boris (metal groups) say “heavy”, they mean fast and loud and thundering but often, in my opinion, emotionally numbing. Boris’s heaviness, though, while both often fast and always loud, feels like a real thunderstorm, all bass and trembling and cathartic power only in flashes. It seeps in, neither always cresecendoing nor descending but simply following the only logical path. It makes a man pause on the edge of the mosh pit, blood dripping on his t-shirt, and smile at me, seeming to forget why he was here in the first place. It makes the sweat curl and twist above the marquee lights. It makes drummer Atsuo bang a gong, stare evilly at the crowd, stand on his drum kit, walk into the crowd, surf it, and walk off the stage, leaving only the guitarists to wail for a couple more minutes. Takeshi, Wata, and Kurihara left the theatrics to Atsuo, remaining the stoic, long-haired veterans they are, clouded in a fog machine, impenetrable foreign gods of rock.
Torche were really good human-being rock musicians, and their performance still stuck with me, even though they played before Boris (not much else was sticking with me after the concert, except the sweat). Lead singer Steve Brooks had a huge smile on his face the whole show, and justifiably so: any band that plays “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” to begin their show has to have both a sense of humor and impeccable taste. All of their songs were beautifully crafted and unique and showed that the veterans (Torche have been toiling in the underground for years) just do it better. Some of the songs, especially “Grenade”, even flirted with a kind of pop sensibility while remaining just as powerful and even fun to listen to. I smiled along with Brooks, especially towards the end, when Torche’s lead guitarist, Juan Montoya, put his guitar in the audience for them to hammer on the last song. It was a neat trick for a sweet band on a great night. -- James Anthofer
Critic's Notebook Personal Bias: Not a metal expert. Barely a novice, actually. Random Detail: A fine underage gentleman near me was kicked out of the show right before Boris began to play for smoking some illicit substances. He was reluctant to even light it in the first place, but his friend, who said “It’s Boris, and we’re here! Of course you should smoke!” convinced him. By The Way: The Marquis was super-packed for this show.