Boris / Russian Circles Lee's Palace, Toronto ON August 9

Boris / Russian Circles Lee's Palace, Toronto ON August 9
I learned a lot of life lessons at Toronto's Boris/Russian Circles show. First, bands who wield impressive technical music skills do not appreciate mosh pits. Secondly, nerds are mesmerized by such technical proficiency, which helps explain why no moshing occurred for the entire show's duration. In fact, just processing the sheer musicianship gets a crowd so hypnotized that they are incapable of talking, let alone moshing. Lastly, and most importantly, when in doubt, procure a subtle headbang.

Perhaps it was my close proximity to some enormous subwoofers, but openers Russian Circles played a set with the kind of amazing instrumental rock that you can feel in your chest. Evading any genre label, their musical roller-coastering ranged from full-on drone metal to fluttering pop melodies, all played mostly in the dark, for maximum emotional effectiveness. Still, at particularly heavy portions of their set, high-wattage white lights blinded the audience, adding to the set's physicality and viscerality. On the subject of physicality, Russian Circles must be in excellent shape, because the trio have a magnificently synchronized stage presence, banging about in a way that almost makes the audience feel like they're watching something intimate. Still, it was hard not to let yourself get distracted by the giant gong that sat behind the band. This was sign of Boris's imminent set.

When the lights finally went out for Boris, the crowd let out a collective anticipatory sigh. Joined on this tour by the impressive Michio Kurihara as a second guitarist, the foursome walked on stage with the aura of music gods and no one packed into Lee's Palace that night would disagree. It seems that genre-bending was the theme of the night, because like their openers, Boris brought a set that was filled with highs and lows, at some points reaching tumultuous volumes (with "Statement") but, at others, ascending into a droned-out bliss.

As a basic summation: it was a friggin' Boris show. It was totally blow-your-mind amazing. We got to see Takeshi play his double-necked bass, and now a bunch of Canadian Japanophiles can die happy.