Live: The Boredoms, Soft Circle, Black Pus – 4/3/08 at the 9:30 Club

This may be a month late. But here it is.


The Bordeoms are one of the weirdest bands you might ever see live. Not really too weird, but their shows are as interesting as any other show you’ve seen. They’re just so…different.

While the Boredoms may not make the greatest music or put on the greatest show in the live setting, their live performances are so different from the typical rock show: don’t pass up an opportunity to see them.


We arrive at the venue a little past the 7:30 time of doors being open. I thought the show would be sold out by doors. Nope. Buy tickets and head inside.

– On a side note: Why does the 9:30 Club (Nightclub 9:30 for those concerned with details) box office charge a service charge on advance tickets? At the box office. This makes absolutely no sense and is completely ridiculous. Day-of-show tickets have no service charge, but advance tickets at the venue box office carry a one dollar service charge per ticket. That’s not a lot, no, but the reason I buy tickets at the box office of a venue is to avoid service charges. The lady selling the tickets said, “We use their envelopes and their system, we’ve gotta charge.” Wow. Makes a lot of sense. And I thought Ticketmaster was cruel. (9:30 Club uses –

Black Pus

Black Pus gets on stage in a little corner at the front of the stage, stage left. Black Pus gets settled at his drum kit and puts on a mask that houses a microphone (for hands free vocal stuff). The mask is frightening. And his music doesn’t ease the tension.

We go upstairs to check out the show from a different perspective. The second level was probably the best choice for the Boredoms show considering the stage set up. (more on that later)

Black Pus pounds on his kit while making noises with his vocal chords. The man (Black Pus is just one guy on the drums, with extra effects) using feedback like a madman. Black Pus, who used to/still does drum for Lightning Bolt, also takes time out to perform the most bizarre air guitar solos you will ever pay witness to. He vocalizes weird noises while pretending to play guitar (thus, air guitar).

He continues to bash away on the drums while forcing out loud noises no shoegazer can attest to. He proves to be a talented drummer. For me, his performance was loud, intense, and overall, kind of scary. Black Pus makes noise music. It’s clear to see why he’s on this bill.

Soft Circle

Next up, Soft Circle. Soft Circle is also one man and his drums. This time though, the man has a microphone via headset (no scary mask to be found in this set), a guitar, a single electronic drum that provides a variety of effects, and one heck of a looper.

Soft Circle taps out a beat on the electronic drum. Loops it. Taps out another beat. Loops it. Plays a few notes on the guitar. Loops it. Drums a new rhythm. Repeat.

That was Soft Circle’s process for each song. But it was good. The songs were relatively different each time. His second song started with a beat that could’ve been that of Radiohead’s “15 Step,” if your ears blinked.

Soft Circle was nice to have between Black Pus and the Boredoms because he provided a lull. His music is not nearly as intense as the other two acts on the bill.

I moved to the beat with Soft Circle’s music. As opposed to Black Pus, Soft Circle actually had music with a melody and all that good stuff. The kind of technical stuff considered frivolous at a show like tonight. My immediate feeling was, “That was great.” Not great as in grand, or innovative, but great as in, “Hey! I enjoyed that!”

Concert companions complained that Soft Circle was a bad drummer. At least compared to Black Pus. I agree with that essentially, but Soft Circle had some good beats and good music. It’s a good sign when music makes you move, and that’s what the music of Soft Circle did. Some of his songs did sound a bit the same, though. Good set, overall.

As they crew finalizes the stage set up for the Boredoms, I take a look around. The first thing I noticed when I entered the club tonight was that I was way out-hipped (not that that’s at all hard to do). This was the most bohemian crowd I have ever been around at a show. One of the inspirations for going upstairs to watch the show was the fact that as Black Pus started, one guy already had run into me. Okay…why so aggressive so early? The crowd was definitely hip to the max.


The stage has three drum sets, a keyboard, a big ‘ol bass drum, the “sevena” (a seven neck guitar), what appears to be a synthesizer and some other electronic music equipment. Two drum sets face away from the audience. Longtime Boredoms member Yoshimi (sound familiar?) will have her back to the audience while drumming, but will turn around to focus on the keyboard.

The lights in the venue darken. After a little wait, three drummers, dreadlocked leader Eye, some guy working electronics, and the-guy-who-picks-up-drum-sticks-and-that-kind-of-thing appear on stage.

Eye is holding these two light bulb-like things that he moves and it creates the image that he’s making some feedback-crazy, electronic sound with them. The light’s probably don’t make any noise, but Eye moves convincingly. He also screams. The whole effect ends up looking like he’s trying to live out some kind of “Dragonball Z” fantasy. It’s cool, though. He looks like a superhero (albeit, a deranged one).

And thus (the) Boredoms begin their set. They do not play songs from their records. They play noise music. And huge songs that’ll confuse you if you try to keep track (with anything). It feels like the Boredoms play a kind of improvised “jam,” but it seems clear that some parts are rehearsed. The drums are wonderfully coordinated and Eye takes his time to scream things in babble-language and perhaps Japanese. Eye does electronic things, as does some guy in the back.

Eye bangs the sevena with some huge rods, reverberating notes wherever he wants. Pure noise fury.

At some points, the sevena sounds pretty coordinated, almost like Eye is playing out a scale as he plays the giant guitar with drumsticks.

They pause. It looks like the Boredoms have played their first song! That only took over half the set! Cool! The band begins its second and final song of the main set.

Yoshimi sings nicely and plays some keyboard. The two other drummers continue to bash away with much skill. Eye continues his screaming and other shenanigans, among them, banging on the standing bass drum.

Some of the audience members on the floor dance in frightening fashion. I was worried 9:30 employees would have to go in there and take some kids out because of seizure troubles. It was that erratic kind of violent dancing/moving.

Much of the crowd stood still and looked on at the band. Some did the normal head movements and foot taps, while those previously mentioned jiggled around the crowded floor without care for the people surrounding them.

The Boredoms’ show is quite hard to describe musically. Noise rock. Psych-noise-experimental, etc. They play noise music. They bash away. They drum. Fury. Fun. They scream. Feedback. Noise.

But just how unique their show is is not something to miss out on. They are far different from the typical rock show, so go and see them for the interesting experience that it is. Good music, but tough music.

The Boredoms end the set with (from what I can tell) their second song of the night. They say ‘thank you and goodnight.’

Expectedly, an encore is asked for. But this is the weakest encore applause I have ever heard. Everyone is so tired and drained from the hour-plus of chaos the Boredoms have played. Most of the nearly sold out crowd stays and claps softly, if at all. There’s clapping, but so little. People are just expecting an encore. They’re all tired.

The Boredoms do indeed come back out for some more madness. Their third and final song of the night.

They bash away again. It’s fun and interesting, but tiring. They’re a good band. They play for a long time. That about wraps it up.

The Boredoms say thank you once more and exit the stage. We leave the venue after a very interesting night of wild, experimental music.

– R.H.

P.S. It’s rumored that the Boredoms will repeat their “77Boadrum” experiment this year with 88 drummers (probably on August 8th, no?). Last year the Japanese noise heroes played beside the Hudson River in New York with 77 drummers on July 7. Reportedly, it was epic.



1 Comment

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One response to “Live: The Boredoms, Soft Circle, Black Pus – 4/3/08 at the 9:30 Club

  1. Pingback: Nike and the Boredoms Present… 88BoaDrum!!!!!!!! « Two Silenced Voices: Critics At Large

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