Bo Ningen @ Southampton Joiners

When walking into a Bo Ningen gig, it is natural to assume what you are about to witness is going to be a strange spectacle. After all, 4 residence of Japan who moved to London to bring their odd blend of noise, post-punk and psychedelia to the UK shores is not something you see on your average evening down the local. Even if you have these assumptions in mind, nothing really prepares you for the sheer oddness of what you witness when Bo Ningen take the stage.

Opening with ‘Kaifuku’, the band set the standard of the psychedelic delights that are in store for the rest of the evening. The track showcases the bands odd blend of influences that somehow mesh together in a way that is simultaneously chaotic and perfectly fitting. Bassist and vocalist Taigen Kawabe’s relentless grooves anchor the preceding. His tone is thunderously loud, and although a lot of what he plays is resembles something that could have been at home on an early Black Sabbath record, drummer/flailing-blur-of-limbs-and-hair Monchan Monna sets a pace that often leaves the room looking more like a rave than a rock gig. This is perhaps at its most obvious when the crowd is bouncing in a sea of smoke and blinding lights to the relentless rhythms provided by ‘Henkan’.

Of course, all this praise for the rhythm section is duly deserved, but they merely provided a sonic playground for guitarists Yuki Tsujii and Kohhei Matsuda. They turn songs into extended jams, sounding like either Flipper or My Bloody Valentine, depending on the duos mood.

Perhaps this performance is best summed up when the gig comes to a head with the song ‘Daikaisei Parts 2 & 3’. Taigen abandons his bass in favour of throwing dramatic shapes, and Yuki lets out shrieks of noise from his amps. Meanwhile, Kohhei gives up on actually playing his guitar, and simply swings it in circles by the strap.

So yeah, Bo Ningen are strange, but it never seems forced or tacky. Despite the fact that they throw everything from post-punk riffs to shoe-gaze influence jams into the melting pot, it seems like the most natural thing in the world for them to do. A show like this should, in theory, be incredibly disjointed, but Bo Ningen seem to reside forever on the edge of chaos, while never fully crossing the line.

Sean Lewis

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