Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Amplifier Worship

A bit late on the update from this one, but last Saturday had me driving down to Columbus to catch SunnO))) and Boris. I had been pretty excited for this show ever since I read about it a couple months ago. I was hoping for an unholy droning east-meets-west sludgefest and was not let down in the slightest. Boris brought the thunder from the east, alternating between Blue Cheer-y, wooly-mammoth-stuck-in-the-tar-pit heaviness and more spastic prog-with-a-fork-stuck-in-a-220-volt socket numbers. They had the younger kids moshing during the latter and the fat, long-haired & bearded dudes in black t-shirts with the sleeves cut off banging their heads slowly in approval during the former tunes. After a short break, the house lights went down and the stage began to fill with fog. Along with the blue stage lights and the numerous tiny red light bulbs hung around, it started to make the transition from concert hall to ceremonial drone cave where the evening's cochlea sacrifice would proceed. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Oren Ambarchi came out (shrouded in the de rigeur black hooded cloak) and began filling the air with piercing tones from his heavily processed guitar. After a few minutes of that O'Malley and Anderson, the High Priests of the Unholy Drone, came out, plugged in, and unleashed the power of the sunn amps. This was the first time I had seen them perform live and had heard how the sound manifests itself physically, but was completely unprepared for it. Up until that point, the loudest band I had seen was Mogwai, but that pain could be alleviated with earplugs. Not so with Sunn. The low end rumbles through your innards and vibrates your teeth. Like some sort of tribal shamans, they had their flock all resonating at the same frequency. If Shiva had an audio accompaniment to his work of destroying planets, it would definitely be SunnO))). (Curiously enough, someone told me that the word "sunno" in Hindi means "listen", but I've been too lazy to look into that. I prefer just believing blindly what he told me) Added to the steel string reverberations were Atsuo's (Boris' drummer) vocal chords and gong hits. Perched at the edge of the stage, and even jumping into the sea of outstretched arms at one point, his blasphemous shrieking-in-tongues whipped the crowd into a frenzy.

This was one of the best performances I've seen in awhile. Added to the fact that it's great music, the atmosphere they create just takes it up to another level. It's a lot more interesting that way than just a bunch of dudes who haven't showered in awhile in the same jeans and t-shirts they've had on for 3 days. With their stage theatrics, Sunn walks the line between over the top, Spinal Tap-esque heavy metal shlock and true reverence. Maybe I'm just some hack writer who completely missed the point, but the boundaries between taking the piss and exalting the dark forces were obscured by the fog machines. As always, the merch tables at shows like this get me into trouble but I was able to sufficiently restrain myself to keep a few bucks in my pocket for a post-show Waffle House stop. Nothing better to fill a post-drone rumbled belly with than a pecan waffle. If I was an enterprising opportunist I would've picked up a couple of the tour-only Sunn discs to flog on eBay (one went for over $140 bucks) but I was content to just pick up the one for myself, along with the picture disc LP of Black One and the high concept 2 disc Dronevil set by Boris. It's somewhat along the lines of the Flaming Lips' "Zaireeka", you sync up the 2 discs to play at the same time. They're impressive enough on their own, but when you actually do sync them up on 2 players, the result is stupefying.

1 comment:

Lee said...

PECAN WAFFLES AND SUNN o)))....Man, what a duo....beautiful review. I am VERY jealous. I love both these bands and still haven't seen either. Texas still sucks sometimes. You definitely "get" it...keep on rockin', dark lord.