Boris / Asobi Seksu Lee's Palace, Toronto ON October 23
Published Oct 24, 2011New York-based Asobi Seksu opened Boris's Toronto stop and did an excellent job. The dream pop aesthetic that governs their songwriting is expertly combined with shoegaze and noise rock influences, leading them to incorporate heavy, crunchy guitar textures and prominent, sometimes thunderous drumming into their sound. The songs they played were characterized by light, refreshing, green-apple-crisp vocals and cheery song structures with a deep well of reverb roiling beneath the surface. It gave their music an eerie sense of menace, a bright and chipper tone with a really sinister atmosphere.
"Strawberries" stood out as particularly psychedelic, sweet and throbbing, with "Pink Light" seeming to twist and turn back in on itself. For the finale, vocalist and keyboardist Yuki Chikudate took over the drum kit and performed a cataclysmic, crashing noise piece accompanied by guitar and bass.
The black-clad members of Boris came out to an experimental noise intro, with layered and crackling sounds augmented by a tasteful bit of smoke machine. This immediately set the tone for a thick, dark, weird set. Then, their sound lightened unexpectedly, as they played a pop-heavy set that seemed to surprise the audience.
Boris's deep, abyssal low end, immense and dark as an ocean trench, yawned beneath the crowd's feet, but there was more emphasis on the moments of glittering flourish, and more light penetrating the surface of their music than usual. They played a lot of material off this year's Attention Please, including "Party Boy," "Spoon" and the titular title track.
Throughout the set, each of the band members seemed to perform in their own miniature universe, interacting between songs but playing with a singular focus and concentration. Atsuo seemed to be conducting, holding up his drum sticks like sword blades; Wata was always composed, still and striking; Takeshi threw his long body around, wrestling with his huge, double-necked bass/guitar; and guest and collaborator Michio Kurihara both played and watched the set, somehow both part of the band and the audience.
Boris's set was certainly strange but never alienating, ultimately becoming weird and pleasant mix of comforting noise.