Bo Ningen at Rough Trade East
It’s only once you’ve seen Bo Ningen live that it starts to make sense why they’d choose London as the band’s spiritual home: Bo Ningen have an edge to them, created via the sonic assault they subject their audience to, that could happily find a home here.
The band cast a striking silhouette as their bassist frontman Taigen Kawabe leads the visual weirdness, allowing his long black hair to flow into floor length black robes. You’d think such an outfit would slow down such a gut wrenching experience, but the frontman doesn’t miss a beat as he jumps around the stage and flails his arms as though performing arcane incantations.
Kawabe’s crunching bass makes up the backbone of many of the tracks, but nothing in Bo Ningen’s set is constant. Epic wailing vocals become the quickfire yelps found in tracks like DaDaDa, duelling power chords make way to an atonal onslaught of screeching guitar riffs, even the rhythm alternates between fast tight beats and bursts of flailing energy.
It’s not a comfortable listen, and the experience is made even less comfortable still by bassist Kawabe’s sporadic gurning facial distortions. When the band finished up their last song, the audience began to flinch as guitarist Yuki threw his guitar into a forced orbit around his head. You get the impression early on that the band seems to take pleasure in making their audience recoil.
Next up for the band is a show with Black Sabbath, but Bo Ningen are a long way from Sabbath’s breed of classic rock. There’s a psychedelic quality to be found in their wall of sound that makes them far more interesting than their heavy metal brethren, while also making them far less accessible. At the end of their half hour show at Rough Trade East I decided against taking them up on the offer made between gasps of heavy breathing; “Please come and talk to us,” not only for my own safety, but for the chance to prod at my ears for signs of permanent damage.
Joe Manners Lewis
III was released on 12th May 2014, for further information about Bo Ningen and future events visit here.
Watch the video for ‘Henkan’ here: