I'll thank my friend Max for introducing me to The Boredoms. And while you may be able to listen to this group of noise-rockers from Osaka on MySpace, I don't think you'll get to hear what I heard. Which was: a seven-neck guitar, played like a, um, gong? Drum? I don't have terminology for this, because as far as I know, it's never existed.
Let me be clear: There were also three full drum kits onstage. The Guitar Tower, which Max dubbed "The Guitower," was simultaneously a percussive and melodic sound, unlike anything I've experienced before. The show hurt me and thrilled me, and I had to wear earplugs for most of it, to be able to listen. My clothes were vibrating.
So I try to describe it: a tribal celebration on Mars, an ancient ritual from the future, something terrifyingly beautiful, like a mountain or a three-mile-high waterfall. One had to enter a sort of trance to follow the rising and falling, the crescendo and decrescendo, the building to climax over and over and over again. And, one had to dance. There was no option not to move.
During the week prior to this show, I read Kurt Vonnegut. I read Cat's Cradle, and was taught, shall we say, SCHOOLED on how brilliantly imaginative and whimsical serious literary fiction can actually be. Ice-nine. Seven-neck guitar. Bokonon. Yoshimi. Do you see where I'm going with this?
You can do whatever you want. This was the major lesson of the week. This is not a simplistic, amoral assertion of permission to pick my nose in public, nor is it an abandoning of any principle. In fact, it's the greatest principle. This is a declaration of absolute creative freedom in service to others, in service to creativity itself, in service to the New, the Beautiful, the Transformative. I can make whatever it is I want to make, and no marketing plan or university job or social standards of normalcy should stop me. No artist is guaranteed an audience, but at least the potential for success in something totally unexpected is there, has precedent, and that is hopeful.
The Boredoms come screaming, dancing, grunting, pounding, screeching, throbbing into a sort of contract: this time we spend together will be different from the hour before and the hour after. People who were overwhelmed or cynical knew it immediately, and left. People who wanted to be changed put their hands in the air and hooted and laughed and thrashed their heads around. I was one more little vessel, infused with newness and once again innoculated against all the "shoulds" that detract from the biggest and most important: Should Love, Should Create.
There are so many treacherously bland routines in my life that exhaust me, decisions I need to make that stress me, and tasks to complete that suck out the marrow of my waking hours. Even when I'm making more money from creative work this will be at least partially true. I fight inertia with the things I write about here, but still, I'm often the one in charge of setting up the opportunity for beauty or hilarity. This time, I got taken along, and that has to be at least part of why I was so affected. Max told me to see the Boredoms, and I didn't decide if I liked them before I went. Tony told me to read Cat's Cradle, and I didn't decide if I'd read "enough" Vonnegut before jumping in. Both were utterly affecting and important, and I didn't find them on my own. What a relief. Not only can I do whatever I want, I can trust my friends to help me.