Friday, November 17, 2017

Boris, Torche and Endon at the Bunkhouse, Thursday Nov 16, 2017

I've been a fan of Boris for close to ten years now (doesn't seem that it's been that long) thanks to my rockin' pal Dan Epstein, but never had a chance to see them and didn't think that I would - especially in a small club. So, of course, when I found out they were going to play in Las Vegas at the Bunkhouse, of course, I had to be there!

It would have been impossible not to notice the huge amount of Orange amps and assorted other equipment decorating the stage when you first walk in. Boris is known for their affiliation with Orange. so that didn't come as a surprise, but the sheer wall of amplification was pretty startling and gave us an indication of the volume we were in for over the course of the evening!

First up was another Japanese band named Endon, with two keyboardists/noise manipulators, guitar, drums and singer. The instrumentalists took the stage first and spent a good five minutes or so blasting'n'blaring a single chord at top volume which seemed at first to not change in any way, but then you noticed minuscule changes in dynamics, then some major stop-on-a-dime kinetics and then, with the introduction of the singer (fairly unstylish in baggy t-shirt and long shorts), a song emerged. They were supremely heavy, Loud and Intense (with a capital "L" and "I"!) and the vocalist simply screamed'n'shrieked and sometimes whimpered through each number. There was a lot of a-rhythmic noize from the keys/synth/whatevers - one had what looked like a metallic satchel that he strummed, pounded and bent for various effects - along with some cool guitar lines and powerfully crazed drumming. I don't know if it would be something that I would listen to at home - I will have to give it a try - but they were an amazing live act!

For me, Torche was slightly out of place in that they were a more traditional 2 guitar/bass/drums line up that played a more standard, modern hard rock/heavy metal, albeit with a fair amount of effects. They were all down-tuned to the point of wobbly strings (down to "C", maybe?) and the songs weer simple'n'monotonous but with drivin' beats. Not bad, but not particularly interesting, either.

As a three piece band, Boris relies on a large number of effects to create the mix of heavy metal, punk and ambient sounds that they are known for. Unfortunately, on this night, that caused countless problems as they had innumerable issues with everything from one of their microphones (I couldn't understand this, unless it was gong through some effects, as well) to their pedals to an amp needing to be replaced. Their set started a good 1/2 hour later than was scheduled and issues continued into the set, with them letting backing tracks of white noise run while problems were resolved. Once they got going, they began with a huge introduction, including fog machines, laser lights and more, with their super-dramatic, make-up wearin' drummer providing lots of visuals. Regrettably, they playaed almost none of their heavier, more rockin' numbers in favor of big, sustained, drawn-out chords, slow beats and lots'n'lots of gong! Very psychedelic, reminding me of early Pink Floyd at times - certainly a band to see while stoned! The female guitarist played some great, piercing leads, while the other instrumentalist - he played a double-necked bass/guitar - filled out the sound with full chords and bass runs - all through an incomprehensible number of pedals! An accordion was brought out at one point for a keyboard-like sound (definitely no polkas here!) and the droning tones continued throughout the set - you could see some hippie-dancin' in the crowd. Between the technical issues and the lack of more upbeat numbers mixed into the set, the crowd thinned out as the set went on and even we were worn out (it was a work night) and took off before the conclusion. It was great to see them in an intimate setting (from their stage show, we assume that they normally play bigger venues), but we wish they varied the set a bit and, of course, didn't have the problems that they did. That said, I would certainly check them out again if given a chance!