77 Drums With a Dragon Charmer in the Middle

The scene just before the drumming began. Photo: Ehren Gresehover

For such a monstrous event, the ending of the Boredoms' 77BoaDrum show in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge Saturday evening was surprisingly peaceful. Led by the Japanese noise-rock pioneers, BoaDrum presented 77 drummers at 77 drum kits spread out across a broad green lawn. In addition to the Boredoms at the center of the spiral, drummers from dozens of indie-rock and jazz bands participated; even Andrew WK was there, sitting behind a gleaming gold drum kit and playing as if he wanted you to enjoy the show as much as he himself was, which seemed to be quite a lot.

77BoaDrum is both a play on the name Boredoms and a reference to the huge spiral, described in the program as "a giant instrument, one living creature, [which] will coil like a snake and transform to become a great dragon!" And though we're not normally taken in by superstition and mysticism, the effect of the music was compellingly spiritual, with changes in rhythm and tone rolling out along the spiral from the center, directed by the Boredom's EYE, through the use of a neon blue baton and shouted commands reminiscent of Japanese taiko drumming. At the end of the show, with a fierce rhythm built up on 77 sets of toms, EYE began to gesture at his orchestra, yelling at them "stand!," looking every bit the long-haired snake (dragon?) charmer. And the drummers did stand, one by one, radiating out from the center, replacing the pounding rhythm with the all-metal shimmer of the cymbals. EYE commanded the audience to stand as well, and as we got to our feet, the drummers began to sit down and let their sticks fall to their sides. Suddenly only the Boredoms were left in the quiet heat, politely thanking the audience in accented English and bowing in a circle, a gentle finish to such a thunderous evening. The giant dragon was finally asleep. —Ehren Gresehover