Review by Rob Batchelor at Beard Rock

Digbeth’s cold in December. My mate nearly died of exposure in the queue outside the Rainbow Warehouse; he only had a cardie on. Twat. Feet freezing, we shuffled in, got our hands stamped and our Desperados (terrible beer selection in the venue, preventing me from giving a five beard rating) and stood on the barrier. The stage was crammed with all the gear for the three bands tonight, because of it’s size rather than the amount of instruments. It’s miniscule. How it could hope to support such lumbering rock mammoths as Boris was anyone’s guess but damn it, there were roughly two hundred of us and we were interested to see what would follow.

Opium Lord were up first, billed as being built from members of Mothertrucker, Stinky Wizzleteat, and History of the Hawk – three luminaries of the local “scene”. And true to their collective heritage, they were great. Their sound is a really screamy, sludgey mess, sounding a little bit like Palehorse in parts, with a definite Khanate influence, if Khanate could have ever just got to the point. They draw from those amelodic grinding sludge acts, with the added tortured screams. It was brilliant.

Joe Volk, next up, was of a completely different ilk. His brand of introspective, heartfelt, but also quite confrontational songs was probably somewhat out of place musically. That’s not to say he was unwelcome, far from it – he has great songs and is an incredibly talented musician – but there seemed to be a minor tension exchange going on between Volk and certain sections of the audience who were, to be fair to Volk, completely out of order. It’s bad enough having to put up with the obligatory twats at gigs without pretentious “fans” talking over a quieter support act. I’d heard them in the queue before we entered and they were a real bag of tools. To a more receptive crowd, Volk’s sensitive but slightly warped songs of love and loss would have gone down a storm, but it just wasn’t his night. A strange highlight of the set was when there were some minor electrical problems, forcing Volk to fill the time with a story about visiting one of the wonderful pubs in the area, without missing a beat. He’s a consummate professional, a talented musician, and he was wasted here. I’d love to see him in a different setting.

Boris arrived with their giant pedals set-up – Wata, Takeshi and Michio arriving with a roughly ironing board-sized array of flashing lights. They sounded huge; the vocals were warped by the rumbling bass, but they were phenomenal. Seeing them live, playing the best bits from their many albums, you really get a sense of just how much ground the band has covered. They mainly concentrated on the big hitters – they played the epic “Flood III”, which sounded incredible, and they also calmed thing down with a bit of “Flood IV”, and also p “Cosmos pt.2” from their recent split with Joe Volk. Also given a live airing were “Huge” from Amplifier Worship, “Vanilla”, “Statement”, and “Angel”. They were dynamic, magnetic, hypnotising, and managed the difficult twin feats of having a gong and not appearing like dicks, mainly due to the boundless (and shirtless) enthusiasm of Atsuo, miked up seemingly just to shout “WOO” and “YEAH”. Aside from his loud enthusiasms, the rest of the band just went about their business, Wata not even breaking a sweat when pulling out impressive riff after impressive riff. It was a great show, almost ruined by a few dickheads, but rescued by the sheer quality of music.