REVIEW: BO NINGEN AT BRISTOL FLEECE (08/10/12)
The man on the door said you know a band is cool if they stack their amps on their sides or have them angled up, and sure enough all of Bo Ningen’s amps line the stage lying on their sides. Having seen Bo Ningen a number of times over the past few years, after seeing their name in publications such as Drowned In Sound, Artrocker and a number of other too cool for school magazines, I knew they were pretty cool and had a pretty clear idea as to what might happen – flying guitar solos, smoking amps and the kind of hair that you only really see in hair care adverts – a warped rock’n’roll showdown of a band.
Kick-starting the night is Nasty Little Lonely, formerly known as Rock in Your Pocket, a band that are very much under the influence of 90s riot girl bands, such as Bikini Kill and Daisy Chainsaw, mixed into a what can be seen as a heady brew with vocalist Charlie Beddoe’s inter plays with guitarist Ben Fishers and his Jesus Lizard-esque moments of grungy guitar noise, backed by a razor sharp drummer they chop their way through a set of raw energy.
Next up is Bristol’s Spectres – another heavily 90s influenced guitar buzz, drawing obvious comparisons to Creation records types, My Bloody Valentine and Jesus and Mar Chain, as they ply the stage with thick warm fuzzy melodies. But they have also added something that makes them a bit different over the past two years, with Joe Hatt playing the near perfect frontman, vocals buried deep in fuzz. Each song is strung together by revering guitar feedback, it’s ultimately geeky slacker indie, niether support act really fits the bill with Bo Ningen, but then again, not many bands in this country are really comparitable to Bo Ningen.
Bo Ningen are a real one of a kind, the kind of band don’t so much belong in another time period or another planet, but a different Universe. They blast you in the face with their own brand of acidic space rock – with the flamboyance of Hawkwind and Black Sabbath and the slightly more contemporary sound of Sonic Youth. Entering the stage like the four horsemen of the Hiroshima apocalypse, you wouldn’t have thought that they actually formed in London in 2007.
They have an unmitigated presence with vocalist/bassist Taigen and his cat-like stage presence, dressed head to toe in black, performing dance routines with his arms and hands. The entire band looks like they have just walked out of a 1970s time warp, with big flares flaming up the stage along with Yuki and Kohhie duelling guitars virtually battle out as they try to out do each other with more and more warped solos, with Monchan’s rhythmic thrashings capitalising on the bands heavier tendencies.
‘Koroshitai Kimochi’ sounds as exciting as ever, with their rolling doom style slow intro that builds in pace before breaking into the tune’s signature complex staccato jerky riffs, with Taigen’s vocals sounding quite positively cat like. At times, the sound is not dissimilar to Japanese art punk noise merchants Melt Banana – high pitched yelping, flanked by two guitar solos. There is a certain gleeful abandonment about the way they play, yes it is big and loud but also really delicately put together, building into walls of psychedelic blasts, before breaking down again.
It was like the ultimate guide of how to make rock music to freak out to – Henkan’s huge sounds blaring out of the speakers, Monchan’s blasting beats prompting colourful dance routines with limbs and long hair flying everywhere in typical Bo Ningen style – Blacker than Sabbath and heavier than Zepplin. It’s only near the end that they even consider down turning the intensity, but even the the doom inspired riffs just rattled from ear to ear as thunderous spacious drums made way for Taigen’s crying vocals; but then everything began to build for the kind of send off that only band like Bo Ningen is capable of – big flying, off the wall guitar solos, smoking guitar stacks and Taigen using his bass as as a phallic symbol, leaving the audience to collectively scrape their jaws from the floor. It was utterly electrfying. Hot damn, this completely fried my brain.
Words: Jeffrey Johns
Photo: Laura Palmer
by 247 Magazine