The Boredoms: 77Boadrums under the Brooklyn Bridge
It was a beautiful, hot-and-sunny summer afternoon, and Dumbo was lousy with hipsters and hippies, rollers and stoners and euphoria seekers and experimental music heads, friendly faces and free-show freaks, the sweaty, the scenesters, the nearly-naked, the curious, and me, all of us willing to stand for hours among the warehouses and cobblestones on the longest line of year* for a chance to hear what it would sound like if 77 drummers played 77 drum kits for 77 minutes on 7.7.twenty-oh-7.
Rightly hyped as a once-in-a-lifetime event (though as one wag on line suggested, there are plenty of one-time-only experiences that you're glad only happen once), 77Boadrums was the creation of Japanese noise iconoclasts the Boredoms, led by Eye (who, on this day, among other things, pounded on a free-standing tree of guitar necks from the "0" position, below), and performed by his bandmates Yoshimi, Yojiro, Senju, and a spiralling army of volunteer percussionists on full, five-drum, three-cymbal kits.
Totally cool concept, totally cool setting, totally (overly?) cool crowd. So how was the music? Well, I wish Eye's electronics hadn't been so loud during certain sections that his pretty standard trance effects actually drowned out the drumming. I mean, if you've gathered together 77 other musicians, you want to be able hear them, right? I also didn't think the composition itself was all that radical, or even especially interesting. That said, there certainly were long stretches during the piece that felt truly amazing, especially that one part when Eye was banging out the repeated four-beat sequence on the guitar necks, and the drumming was loud and rhythmic, and the whole park was bobbing and tapping and swaying and dancing, and the evening was cooling down and the light was fantastic and the bridge looked beautiful and I was thinking, yes, absolutely, there is no place in town I'd rather be than right here, right now.
The Boredoms say that 77Boadrums will never be performed again. You can, however, visit the scene any time you want—the park's official name is the Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park; entry is at the end of Dock Street—perhaps after getting a treat at the nearby Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory.
* Seriously, this was a long-ass line. I arrived at around 2:45, an hour and fifteen minutes before the Dock Street gates were supposed to open, and already the line had stretched and curved at least five blocks away. If you have any idea of Dumbo geography, I ended up directly underneath the Manhattan Bridge on Plymouth Street. And supposedly the line doubled in size again by the time they started letting people in, well past 5:00. The show was much longer than 77 minutes, and ended sometime after 8:30.