Human beings, especially those of us that spend way too much time on the internet, are constantly bombarded by advertising. While the products are different, they share the common thread of making you, the potential customer, a promise: feel better, be more popular, look younger, keep your family safe from dust and/or alien intruders, and one of the most popular promises: lose weight fast. Whether it’s an expensive home torture device that you’ll try once and then subsequently use as a clothes hanger, or a pill the promises washboard abs as long as you’re willing to risk kidney failure, there is a vast legion of companies promising you an effective, easy weight loss solution. Now, since I have a word count to respect, I’ll skip the important diatribe on body shaming and our culture’s insane obsession with weight. Instead, I’ll share with you, absolutely free of charge, a guaranteed weight-loss solution.
Here it is: attend a sold out show at Montreal’s Bar Le Ritz PDB featuring legendary Japanese avant-guard rockers BORIS on the hottest, most humid goddamn night of the year. You’ll sweat the pounds away and the only side effect is happy, bleeding ears.
The relatively small venue quickly packed up as local opening act C H R I S T took the stage. Now, I want to make special note of how they did it, because it speaks to this Montreal post-metal four-piece’s attention to detail. When guitarist and synth player Patrick Fontaine climbed on stage by himself, he appeared to be simply tuning his guitar, but after a quick line check he began playing a series of languid, sustained chords. Then, one by one, the other three members came up, each in turn layering their sound into the song, creating a subtle but incredibly effective visual representation of the act of composition. While it can be tricky to keep an audience engaged during a live set of minimalist, instrumental post-metal, C H R I S T ‘s music incorporates enough stylistic shifts, however glacial, to keep things interesting; spartan, atmospheric passages gave way to booming drums, blusey guitar riffs, and organic, Hammond-style synth work. Even though the band might not be playing a whole whack of notes, the quality of the musicianship was undeniable; the music was indeed spacious, but all of the playing was deliberate and sharp.
As BORIS came on stage, smoke machines billowed thick plumes of hazy steam into the air. I thought that this is what Hell’s Bikram Yoga class would feel like. The crowd was unphased by the room’s rising temperature, far too elated at the prospect of watching BORIS perform Pink, their iconic tenth studio album, in its entirety. As the fuzzed out, dreamy, shoe-gaze of opening track “Farewell” washed over the crowd, those unfamiliar with this Tokyo threesome could be excused for expecting the set to continue in a similar vein. But what makes BORIS so fascinating and so enjoyable is their steadfast resolve to avoid easy genre classification. Once the last, fuzzy, minimalist notes of “Farewell” rang out, the band immediately launched into Pink‘s title track, a swaggering psych-rock banger. Lead singer and guitarist Takeshi Ohtani’s initial stoic demeanour melted away, revealing a man intent on having a really good fucking time by ripping solos, head banging, and occasionally pounding on the giant gong situated behind drummer Atsuo Mizuno. Just as the audience had acclimated to the boisterous high energy of tracks like “Woman on the Screen” and “Nothing Special,” BORIS dropped a ten-tonne sludge-soaked wrecking ball in the form of “Blackout,” a tune whose oppressive heaviness was further magnified by synthplayer and guitarist Wata’s eerie, high-pitched synth work. What keeps BORIS’ seemingly schizophrenic nature on track is equally high levels of musical skill and compositional awareness. The band is able to navigate vastly different styles and genres while retaining a consistent, connective sound and feel. No one in the audience seemed to mind that at one moment Ohtani was leading the crowd in a high-spirited clap along and the next was bathing the audience in subsonic Sleep worship.
There is something truly wonderful about seeing a great band play classic material to an enraptured audience. It is an experience so euphoric, so transformative that it almost makes you forget about the heat. Almost. Okay, no it doesn’t. Fuck you, heat.
Written by Jesse Gainer
Photography by Nathan Hum
*edited by Kate Erickson