This has been a mighty year already for quality heavy and experimental music. When Boris puts out new music, it is a major happening across the fan base of many genres of music. Praise from critics is always nice, and Ghost Cult gave Boris a 9/10 for their new album. But when you hear more people talking up Noise (Sargent House) than many other big-ticket band releases this year save for a few, you know something cool is happening. Adding to that mix, The Atlas Moth, riding high off of their June album The Old Believer (Profound Lore), you have two of the most dynamic and interesting bands right now on the same tour. Then top it off with some avant-doom madness from Subrosa, and you have a can’t miss show top to bottom. While having three bands of a certain mystique and quality (especially Boris) brings out the super fans, it was a weird mix of indie hipsters, death metal beardos, bro dudes (hey it’s Boston) and even a few vest wearing dudes and chicks all together in a weird soup of humans on a Tuesday night in Beantown. Every metal show is basically an interesting social experiment!
Subrosa was up first and I was a little stunned at the hefty early crowd, already entranced by the first notes. Playing their deft, drone-y sludge, they hit you hard and deliberately. It’s hard not to be transfixed on the performance of front woman/axe slinger Rebecca Vernon. Her soul shaking vocals and skillful playing just smokes fierceness. Violinists Kim Pack and Sarah Pendelton pack in the drama with their intense, layered parts. I have spent reviews complaining about the the weird room that The Paradise is, and how it doesn’t do bands any favors sonically. Some of the highs from the strings were eaten up by the depth of the room, which is a shame since on record they are towering. Kim’s vocals were also a highlight tonight. The set leaned heavily on No Help for the Mighty Ones and More Constant Than The Gods (both on Profound Lore), and between the two, I favor the earlier album. Despite that, the bands’ best song on the night was ‘The Usher’ from More Constant…, and featured Dave Kush from TAM on guest vocals. Still, it was impossible at the end of their set not to feel tipsy from the strength and creativity of this band. I need to see Subrosa play a headline set, just once in my life. Just once.
Over the years I have learned how to spot greatness in bands, sometimes before they even know it. Usually, I am usually right about these things and The Atlas Moth is going to be a band that years from now, we point to this moment when they took off. They hit the stage tonight with a purpose and the poise of a veteran band that they have become. I have seen others shoot their collective load too fast when opening for Boris (because Boris is Boris), but not these guys. They just went up like any other show and eased into their set with ‘Jet Black Passenger’. The now mostly full room was just feeling it big time! Or it could have been some of the superb herb I sensed going around nearby me. Bathed in a wash of blues and reds (cool to watch from the crowd, crap for photographers), front man Stavros Giannopoulos and Kush on the conjoined vocals of shrieking despair and smoothness just melted the entire room. The entire band was just crushing tonight, as they jammed mostly new material from The Old Believer. The now modern classic of ‘Holes In The Desert’ was also welcomed to my ears on this night, and its a track that I hope never leaves the set. Kim from Subrosa came out and lent her playing to ‘The Sea Beyond’, which also was a treat. When the entire band gets to singing, screaming together as it does, it can be quite moving. Andrew Ragin, who produced the new album, also chimes in with synths, guitars and vocals is a powerhouse live. He is a difference maker. The secret weapon of the band is Dan Lasek on the drums. He has really upped the ante in terms of power and groove since he joined. Not since the mighty ISIS played some of their final shows in this very building a few years ago has post-metal been so well executed here. Bring on the headline tours boys!
Finally it was time for Boris. Some of the beardos had left after the penultimate act and there were some drunken bros who were loud as fuck the rest of the night, which pissed me off to no end. Moving right a long, Boris hit the stage with a boom, launching right into ‘Melody’ from Noise. Professional;, perfectly played, and most of all fun; Boris knows how to start an album or a party with uptempo, melodic bliss inducing rock. Takehashi Ohtani rocks the double-neck guitar/bass and moves flawlessly between either neck depending on what the parts require. Vocally he is a wizard: able to morph his voice to whatever the style of the songs call for. Atzuo Mizuno behind the kit is a powerhouse, as both a drummer and a performer. His vocals are also excellent and when he and Takehashi sing together, it is magical. Plowing right into ‘Vanilla’, another new song, the crowd let out a loud cheer. It was almost like a sporting event atmosphere in the room with many “oohs” and “ahhs” all night long. The opposite of her cohorts, Wata on guitar is quite restrained in her performances physically, but she is a beast on the axe. Her stoicism is only matched equally by her mastery of riffs, the occasional lead part, and feedback of course.
Although the band leaned heavily on the just released Noise, they mixed it up well with Pink and Amplifier Worship also represented too. The set list was constructed expertly as you would expect from this band. Raging rock and metal, introspective mellowness, followed again by waves of crashing melodies and other weirdness. Mid-set cuts such as ‘Ghost of Romance’, ‘Heavy Rain’ and ‘Cosmos’ just send you on an emotional rocket ship to space and back . Speaking of space, Boris has never been afraid of the space rock, but really labels can barely describe what this band does. They are reference points for those who need a paint by numbers experience. It’s much better than to let go and feel the show, rather than make mental notes such as “pop song, drone song, instrumental, thrash number”. Or maybe that is just me.
Closing out the night with panache, they chilled out with the somber ‘Angel’, then rocked with ‘Quicksilver’. After a drawn out feedback and noise rave-up, a friend of the bands’ came on stage and there was a sudden wedding proposal! The things you see at a show, man. Then the band returned and played ‘Vomitself’ and bid us all a good night!
Boris Set List:
Ghost of Romance
Taiyo no Baka
WORDS: KEITH (KEEFY) CHACHKES