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888 BoaDrum review

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  • speterme
    Hey all! Here s a review by August Brown in the LA Times: Live: Boredoms at the La Brea Tar Pits
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 11, 2008
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      Hey all!

      Here's a review by August Brown in the LA Times:

      "Live: Boredoms at the La Brea Tar Pits"

      http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/music/la-et-boredoms11-2008aug11,0,4383033.story

      The Japanese art-punk ensemble rolls out the percussion for the L.A.
      premiere of the avant-garde '888 BoaDrum.'
      By August Brown, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
      August 11, 2008
      Boredoms' free Friday night concert at the La Brea Tar Pits was
      probably the second-most impressive percussion-centric event in the
      world that evening. But it's a testament to the wild ambitions of
      Boredoms' founder, Yamatsuka Eye, and the 88 drummers who joined him
      for a new avant-garde symphony, "888 BoaDrum," that it took the
      opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics to overshadow the Japanese
      art-punk ensemble.

      "888 BoaDrum" arrived on the numerologically auspicious heels of last
      year's "77 BoaDrum," held in New York's Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park
      on July 7, 2007, where Eye and Boredoms' three full-time drummers
      recruited 73 local percussionists, many in popular experimental rock
      bands, to accompany a similar, 77-minute new work. This year's version
      upped the degree of difficulty and the length of the sprawling new
      piece by 11 minutes.

      Eye and his band led the Los Angeles debut of "888 BoaDrum," while the
      New York-based experimental quartet Gang Gang Dance led the identical
      piece in New York on the same night.

      L.A. has not been a town for unhinged concert behavior lately, but the
      unchecked giddiness of the thousands splayed across the hills of the
      lawn outside the Page Museum couldn't have been due only to the
      copious joints being passed through the audience.

      Boredoms' task of enlisting 85 competent drummers to play a largely
      unrehearsed work proved easier than it sounds, involving something
      almost akin to a series of sleeper cells for percussionists. A central
      group of Boredoms' associates (spearheaded by "BoaDrum" coordinator,
      Japanese-speaking liaison drummer Hisham Akira Bharoocha of the band
      Soft Circle) each recruited subgroups of drummers who are based in
      L.A. or who could travel that day, then arranged them in a spiral
      around Boredoms' members on the lawn at the Tar Pits.

      Dan Rowan, of the L.A.-based all-drum quartet Foot Village, was one
      who made the cut.

      "We knew Warren [Huegel] from [the San Francisco band] Tussle, and
      he's in the inner circle of this," he said. "I heard stories about
      losers with managers calling up Boredoms and saying, 'You have to let
      us be in this.' "

      Fans of Modest Mouse, Hella, Jawbreaker and Hole would have recognized
      those bands' percussionists in the throng, along with at least one
      representative from nearly every local indie rock outfit of note. The
      lineup was also notably gender-integrated, with drummers from Mika
      Miko, Unwound and Erase Errata, plus many other women in prominent
      section spots. The sub-group leaders had a few days to practice the
      piece, but most drummers had only that day to sharpen their chops for
      the evening.

      "It was a little chaotic, but they wanted chaos," said Aaron Sperske,
      of the recently reunited L.A. psych-country group Beachwood Sparks.
      "It was about one-third drummers and two-thirds people who knew how to
      play drums. If this were a summer camp, you could already see who
      would hang and who would be left out. It'd be like 'Meatballs.' "

      There was something deeply appropriate about hosting the concert at
      the Tar Pits, as there's a primeval, almost geologic power to that
      much percussion. The show began promptly at 8:08 p.m., with a
      minutes-long cymbal swell beginning on Boredoms' central stage and
      spilling out into the spiral. The swell soon built into a cacophonous
      free-for-all of fills that surely sent the residents of the nearby
      Park La Brea Apartments scrambling to their windows to see if J.J.
      Abrams was filming a "Cloverfield" sequel nearby.

      The rest of the piece moved with surprising synchronicity through
      passages reminiscent of everything from Led Zeppelin to Indian ragas,
      '90s drum-and-bass and Neu!-esque krautrock. At the center of the
      stage, Eye howled and conducted with unhinged vigor, cuing the
      "BoaDrum" equivalent of page turns with an enormous wand that doubled
      as a drumstick for triggering samples on a giant bank of synthesizers.

      Fans were free to wander, as the audience was arranged in the round.
      One elderly man led a gaggle of scruffy twentysomethings in a
      full-body convulsion dance, while across the field, a lone woman
      hula-hooped with singular commitment and a man hawked his silk-screen
      art prints. True to the hippie-ish nature of any drum circle, one hot
      rumor going around "BoaDrum" suggested that the end of the L.A. spiral
      connected in a straight line with the end of the New York spiral to
      form -- yes -- the number 8.

      "888 BoaDrum" was divided into three movements, and each of the
      groups' transitional points was like watching a tank make a U-turn: a
      bit cumbersome and unwieldy, but fearsome once it got rolling. Instead
      of a bombastic finale, "888 BoaDrum" ended much as it started, with
      the ensemble's marital rhythms dissolving inward until the three
      Boredoms drummers ceased after a final cymbal trill.

      Although the "BoaDrum" arrangement was exhilarating and exhausting
      even for the audience, most of the drummers greeted friends on the
      lawn with huge smiles, as if the heavens (and numbers) had aligned
      just for them on this night.

      "I feel totally fine," Bharoocha said immediately after the show, as
      he fielded a dozen well-wishing handshakes in both English and
      Japanese. "The piece feels smaller than you think after all the planning."

      august.brown@...
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