Any discussion of fucked-up Japanese music has to begin with Yamataka Eye or Yamatsuka Eye or Yamantaka Eye or whatever he’s calling himself in 2017. In the 1980s he was in the Osaka-based outfit Hanatarashi (which means “sniveler” or “snot-nosed”), whose extreme shows are still the stuff of legend—Eye quit the band after seriously injuring himself in the leg with a chainsaw during a gig. Top that one, you pikers in Einstürzende Neubauten!
In the 1990s Eye founded the provocative Boredoms, which straddled that elusive line between “destroying all conceptions of rock music” and “staying together long enough to release a whole bunch of albums.” Douglas Wolk’s quasi-intentionally uproarious writeup of their work in The New Rolling Stone Album Guide calls their early release Onanie Bomb Meets The Sex Pistols
a total mess—they’ve clearly decided that they want to destroy everything predictable about music, but haven’t a clue what to replace it with. There’s a lot of vehement shrieking in a made-up language, riffs that self-destruct after a few seconds, and incoherent clattery mayhem.
Wolk calls a later album, Pop Tatari, “hilariously berserk.” But they were just getting started.
About a decade ago, Eye started a loose series of concerts to celebrate various pleasingly symmetrical calendar dates—07/07/07, 11/11/11 (known in some circles as Corduroy Appreciation Day), and so on. The first show, the 7/7/7 one, is probably the best-known, because it attracted a large audience of New Yorkers and also ended up as a DVD product available from Thrill Jockey.
In June of 2007 word spread that there was going to be a massive Boredoms-organized drum event, to be held on July 7. The show was to be held underneath the Brooklyn Bridge at Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park. Admission would be free, but an RSVP would be required. It became one of those events in New York that rapidly generate an urgent, must-see vibe among the self-appointed cognoscenti. About 4,000 attended, and those who ended up getting excluded became pretty annoyed about it. Amusingly, some used the bridge itself as a vantage point to take in the action, as seen below.
The name of the show was 77Boadrum (sometimes styled “77 Boa Drum”). Obviously, the time to start an event with 77 drummers on 7/7/7 is 7:07 p.m., which was the case. It was presumed (or possibly announced) that the ultra-large combo would play for 77 minutes (does make sense, no?) but apparently they played for almost two hours. Every drummer was provided with the same setup, a full 5-piece, 3 cymbal drum kit, all of which would be arranged in a large spiral (to mimic DNA, supposedly) with the Boredoms at the center. Eleven “drum leaders” were selected to occupy strategic positions in the spiral to keep the stragglers on track and on tempo.
Photo credit: BrooklynVegan
It goes without saying that this collection of percussionists was quite impressive. Among the drum leaders were Kid Millions (Oneida), Tim Dewit (Gang Gang Dance), and Brian Chippendale (Lightning Bolt), and the full ensemble included figures such as Andrew W.K., Sara Lund (Unwound), John Moloney and Taylor Richardson (Sunburned Hand of the Man), Matt Schulz (Holy Fuck), Josh Madell (Antietam), Jason Kourkounis (Bardo Pond), and Chris Brokaw (Come). Check here for a fuller list.
Okay, enough of my yakking…