Boris -Rickshaw Stop 5/21/13
Photo by Mike G.

Boris is doing a series of special two-night appearances in select cities, and San Francisco was one of the lucky winners. And if that isn’t cool enough for you, the venerable Japanese experimental/noise/metal/psych band is playing its SF shows with two of the Bay Area’s top metal acts, Bosse-de-Nage and deafheaven.

Unfortunately, it seems Boris’ grand ambitions for these shows meant that Bosse-de-Nage had to go on super early. I got to Rickshaw at what I consider the typical “show time,” but Bosse-de-Nage was already done and Boris was just about to take the stage.

That sucked, because last year’s III was one of my favorite metal releases from the Bay Area or anywhere else, and I have yet to see Bosse-de-Nage live. But it seems Boris definitely needed the space, as they brought an arena-sized show to the 400-person Rickshaw Stop.

This was the “All Time Classics” night, in which Boris played selections from across their 17-plus album career (the following night they were scheduled to play their classic 2000 album Flood in its entirety, with deafheaven opening). The members of the band were totally psyched to be up there, bringing enough energy to their performance to fill a venue ten times as big. Pretty much every song was punctuated by several “whooooo”s from drummer Atsuo, whose drums were mixed loud enough to have filled an arena, and had enough reverb on them that it sounded like we were in an arena.

But the atmosphere was all rock club: The sold-out crowd was packed in tight, and it was so hazy it looked like Karl the Fog had just rolled in—and that wasn’t due entirely to the smoke machines Boris was using onstage, if you catch my meaning.

Given the way the band is pulling out all the stops, the show almost felt like some kind of victory lap to me. Here’s hoping it’s not meant as a farewell, but as a celebration of the supremely epic, sludgey noise the band creates, and that there are many more to come.