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martin wong
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Show reviews: Two nights with Boris at The Echoplex; Turbonegro at The El Rey

I was pretty bummed when I found out that both Boris shows at The Echoplex were sold out. Also pissed at myself for not immediately buying tickets. After all, how often does one of my favorite bands make it all the way here from Japan–the group that I actually sold merch for when they toured with our mutual friends Damon & Naomi back in 2008. Then out of the kindness of her heart, the very same Naomi hit up Atsuo from Boris on my behalf and he put me on the guest list. What? And thanks!

The first opener was Marriages, who hint at what Siouxsie might sound like if she were backed by The Melvins instead of The Banshees. Yeah, it was that good. Next up was a black metal band, Deafheaven. I think they are what Iceage want to be when they grow up– super hard and colder than shit. This is the type of top-shelf noise you get when a label like Sargent House takes over a venue…

Finally, there was Boris. The first night of their two-night stand was billed as a “greatest hits” night with rockers like “Statement” and “ Pink.” I don’t think any other band in the world can match their supreme blend of psychedelic jams, sludgy doom, and straight-up metal licks. I had actually never heard them as a trio–they often tour with the unofficial fourth member/guitar god Kurihara–so it was wild to hear “Rainbow” without him. So heavy. So awesome. (Yes, that is indeed O in the picture above. He was doing sound for Boris.)

Around 2:00 or 3:00 a.m., I received an email from Atsuo who said that he didn’t see me at the gig and that I was on the list for the second show as well. This was billed as the more experimental set, and wouldn’t I be a dick if I didn’t go and say thank you?

While I left the first evening totally satisfied, it was kind of like having one bookend without the other. Boris’ rocking side is complemented by a more noisy and arty side, and it was rad to hear the intense, epic buildup of “Flood” in the same set as the gorgeous “Attention Please.” The band’s masterful and massive range of harsh noise to gentle beauty is huge, matched only by the members’ coolness. It will seem like forever before they come back but it’s comforting that the prolific band keeps cranking out excellent, challenging releases as if their brains were on fire…

On Saturday night I got to see Turbonegro for the first time. I got pretty amped up by the band’s pre-gig mix of The Cult, Judas Priest, Motörhead, etc.  And then holy crap, they delivered a great show–like KISS meets the Village People, maybe. Just as incredible as the Norwegian band’s ultra catchy brand of “death punk” is their hardcore fans who not only shout out every single lyric but dress up like demented sailors in denim and smeared lipstick. Even better, there are just as many women as dudes singing along and bouncing around to supremely catchy and rockin’ songs like “ Just Flesh,” “FTW” and “ Erection.” How rad (and rare) is that?

That’s three consecutive nights of very loud, very awesome music. Luckily there’s been a long weekend to rest the ears before trying to catch Retox later this week…

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