After years of waiting, I finally saw Boris live. It was incredible. It was exactly what I was hoping for. It changed my perception of a band that’s been a favorite for almost a decade. I now see Boris is completely new light.
Standing in the Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids, MI, I felt a blast-furnace heat that burned away any trace of skepticism I had about the power of live rock music. It’s been a long, long time since a band gave me such a revelatory experience.
There’s really nothing to compare it to. Seeing Boris in person is a visceral thing, an experience felt in the body and on the skin more than in the head. I started out, as always, in analytical music writer mode. I was noting the way they played some of the songs different, highlighting novel aspects of music I’ve known inside and out for years. Then a transformation took place.
Halfway through their full throttle performance of 2005’s landmark album Pink, all conscious thought stopped. I simply let the sound pulse through me, the feedback bounce off my skull, nodding in unison with the couple hundred other guests in the audience. Squalling noise became a meditative wash. It felt wordlessly spiritual. It was happening just like I’ve been told; I only needed to be there to understand.
The unquestionable highlight of the evening was the climax of the album itself, Just Abandoned Myself. The song begins tightly coiled, all muscle and grit, charging forward at breakneck speed. As it roars on, time begins to perceptibly shift. Like a film gradually transitioning into slow motion, the ferocious riff loosens and lengthens, tension turning into slack, stoned groove. All sense of momentum vanishes as the song expands like an algae bloom in time-lapse. The sound tunnels into the body, enveloping thought like a cave, echoing beyond any sense of comprehension.
After this epic climax, Boris still had more to show. The band went on to play a handful of new tunes included in the deluxe reissue of Pink, eventually ending the set with a guest appearance from Earth mastermind Dylan Carlson himself. It was a fun and frankly lighthearted way to send the crowd back out into the night. Everyone left floating just a few inches off the ground.
I didn’t capture any video at the show, so I’ll just include the masterful studio take on Just Abandoned Myself. A live video just wouldn’t do it justice, anyway.
Pink has been reissued as a deluxe 3LP set with the original Japanese artwork and an entire full bonus set of songs from the recording sessions. Along with the live show, it’s going a long way toward making its case as possibly the greatest Boris album.