The Polish National Home, located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, has remained a staple of the Polish community for over a century and is now also home to one of New York City’s coolest concert venues, Warsaw. The eight-hundred person capacity ballroom is adorned with intricate plaster moldings, chandeliers, and two over-sized oil paintings which flank either side of the ornately framed stage. At the bar, you can get a 16oz. can of Zywiec beer before making your way to the bistro for a few tasty sauerkraut pierogis to enjoy with the show. The space would appear relatively unchanged aside from the fact that it now plays host to rock n’ roll acts instead of polka. This past Friday, August 5th, Warsaw opened its doors to Brooklyn’s many metalheads for a sold out show from two cult favorites of experimental metal, Earth and Boris.
Earth was set to kick off the evening of heavy tunes. Based out of Washington state, the group was originally formed in 1989 and they are considered early pioneers of drone metal or what lead guitarist, Dylan Carlson, would later describe as “ambient metal”. Carlson’s sound and writing style are as dark and ominous as his past. The trio’s nearly hour long set was characterized by crawlingly slow tempos and relentless repetition. Bassist Don McGreevy would often times alternate ad nauseam between just two or three chords throughout the course of a seven or eight minute instrumental, slamming one distorted chord and allowing the feedback to take over and drone out before slamming the next and doing exactly the same. Eventually, this unforgiving repetition creates new, unforeseen dynamics while serving as a point of reference throughout Earth’s spaced out songs. Paired with Dylan Carlson’s atmospheric, country-noir style guitar work, usually done with his instrument tilted completely vertically, the lethargic instrumentals begin to take on an epic quality.
After a quick set change and a few pierogis it was time to watch veterans of the road and studio, Boris, do their thing. The trio from Japan have released an astonishing twenty-three studio albums and a number of EP’s and live recordings since 1996, creating an immense catalog of work covering a range of musical styles. On this night the prolific group was scheduled to play Pink, their critically acclaimed 2005 release. However, in keeping with their tradition of unpredictability, the songs were performed in a different order from which they appear on the album.
Boris began their set with a nod to the evening’s opening act, picking up exactly where Earth left off with the instrumental “Blackout”, the most downtempo and quite possibly heaviest track from Pink. Both lead guitarist Wata and guitar/bassist Takeshi played significantly downtuned instruments, Wata brandishing her Les Paul custom guitar and Takeshi playing his double-necked bass/guitar hybrid, the combination creating a floor-shaking deluge of reverb.
Demonstrating their varied styles, the group switched gears dramatically and blasted into the albums’ title track as Wata exhibited her exceptional guitar ripping abilities on the song’s high speed, Motorhead-esque riffs, instantly becoming the dream girl of every male metalhead in attendance.
Once at full speed, Boris plowed through the next hour of their set, playing all eleven tracks with hardly a pause and even throwing in a few surprises like “N.F Sorrow” and “Talisman”. Neither of those are on the original release of Pink, but were included in the “forbidden tracks” portion of the recently released ten year anniversary reissue. Boris would eventually leave Warsaw’s stage triumphantly to chants of “Boris!, Boris!” and a sea of hands throwing up the devil horns, but not before drummer/vocalist Atsuo could get in a couple stage dives, closing the night in glorious fashion.