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Round and Round: Boredoms perfect audience participation 

Wednesday, Mar 5 2008
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On the numerically auspicious date of July 7, 2007, what may have been history's most elaborate drum circle took place in a park at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. Organized by renowned Japanese underground band the Boredoms, 74 drummers with full kits formed a spiral, with three Boredoms drummers and bandleader/conductor Yamataka Eye at the center. For nearly two hours, this ad hoc percussive orchestra churned out a swirling soundstorm surrounded by some 4,000 audience members, many of whom subsequently called it a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"It was a really spiritual thing; a lot of people were hugging afterward," recalls Aquarius Records co-owner Andee Connors, who was drummer number 58, right next to Andrew W.K. Other drummers included members of Tussle, Gang Gang Dance, Lightning Bolt, and No-Neck Blues Band. "Sounds would go out around the spiral," Connors said of the serpentine sonic event, dubbed 77 Boadrum. "It was kind of like a drum version of the game of Telephone. From the Brooklyn Bridge, you could maybe hear the whole movement of sound."

While the event was a far cry from Boredoms' spastic yelp-noise of two decades ago, the Tokyo-based band's gradual drift into more transcendent dynamics has been fairly apparent in recent years, with albums like Super Roots 9 and live performances very much focused on hypnotic throb atmospherics. But there's still an element of unhinged Bore-adelics, with Eye making noises on everything from electric orbs to a seven-necked guitar rack aptly called the Sevena. The band's current tour continues the drum-circle concept, performing several shows (including the Fillmore) "in the round," with audience members free to wander circuitously around the band.

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Mike Rowell

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