Pitchfork Media tends to be frowned upon by much of the metal community as the spawning ground of many of the hipster trends that eventually make their way into our culture. However, the truth is that they have earned their title as music snobs because they generally know what the fuck they are talking about when it comes to the art. Between the cheap beer drinking, good food, partying with friends and other such things like amazing underground experimental music, it's hard to not want to go see what's playing at Pitchfork (the veritable SXSW of the upper midwest) each year. To be honest, knowing that Japan's metal visionaries in BORIS were invited to perform at Pitchfork 2008 in front of over 15,000 fans was the only justification that I needed to make the 8 hour drive. When I also took into account that they scheduled a post-festival show at the Empty Room in Chicago with the likes of TORCHE and NACHTMYSTIUM for the same night, there was no option for me not to attend.
BORIS put on an amazing show at Union Park in Chicago. Despite the fact the BORIS was the only band worthy of the description of metal on the bill that day, they accomplished the unlikely and quickly won over the hard-to-impress crowd at Pitchfork Festival. Those who are familiar with BORIS's long and storied career know that you can never know what to expect from them, and the same can be said of them on this day. Performing with their friend and longtime collaborator Michio Kurihara, they launched into a compacty yet stellar set that drew from every aspect of their repertoire, focusing heavily on their recent heavy metal fuzz rock epics from their new album Smile. Because BORIS is well known to be one of the most influential drone and doom metal bands in recent years and many of their collaborations with Michio are extremely experimental, I was really hoping to see them space-out in front of the festival crowd, but it didn't matter. They only briefly segued into some brief doom metal psychedelic mindfucks, but no matter what BORIS played, they had they unlikely audience moshing, headbanging, thrashing, and throwing up the metal horns and claw to every entrancing note. It was unfortuante, but BORIS had to cut their energy inducing set short that afternoon. The explanation? As drummer Atsuo said in straight-faced broken English before jumping into the crowd and ending the show, "not enough electric power". Nothing could be closer to the truth. It was clear that BORIS had accomplished the job with their psychedelic metal anthems – the entire crowd gave the ultimate respect and kept their fists raised and the BORIS chant going until the next band was ready to take the stage.
At the Empty Room show that night with NACHTMYSTIUM and TORCHE, we were treated to a more equal dosage of fuzz metal and the extended experimental jams with Michio that I was anticipating. That day in Chicago BORIS proved to be a veteran band that could please a crowd no matter where they play. If you want to catch a thought provoking metal show this year, I strongly suggest catching them on tour this year if they're coming near you.
Here's some fan-filmed footage from the show. If Pitchfork posts pro-shot foot at pitchfork.tv later this week, I'll embed it here and update this post.
BORIS tour dates with TORCHE and LAIR OF THE MINOTAUR:
July 25 at the Marquis Theater in Denver, CO
July 26 at the Urban Lounge in Salt Lake City, UT
July 29 at Neumo's Crystal Ball Reading Room in Seattle, WA
JUly 30 at Richards on Richards in Vancouver, BC, Canada
July 31 at the Hawthorne Theatre in Portland, OR
August 2 at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, CA
August 3 at Echoplex in Los Angeles, CA