Beginning in 2009, Leave Them All Behind is an annual music showcase in Tokyo. It features a variety of artists from both inside and outside Japan. Previous performers include Sunn O))), Godflesh, Deafheaven, as well as recurring guests Boris, MONO, and Envy. This year, Leave Them All Behind spanned over two days at iconic live houses, Ebisu Liquid Room and Daikanyama Unit.
Day One at Ebisu Liquid Room
As you can see from the above poster, it was a bit unclear what the order of the line-up was going to be for the two nights. So it was surprising for many to see Envy open up the first night of Leave Them All Behind.
But in hindsight, you could not have asked for a more powerful opening band. Similarly to their May show at the Liquid Room, Envy played an emotionally charged set. Running at about an hour, about half of their set came from their recent release, Atheist’s Cornea, while the remaining songs came from Recitation and Insomniac Doze.
Between May and September, vocalist Tetsuya has been strengthening his clean vocals. There was a definite improvement between their album release show and now, and this improvement continues to show in Tetsuya’s confidence in his performance.
A guest violinist joined Envy on stage for the final three songs.
Photo Credit Anas Saleh (2015)
Also similar to last time, Envy brought a guest violinist to accompany them for “Shining Finger“, “A Warm Room“, and “Ticking Time and String“. Fellow band members were as strong as ever as they warmed the crowd up for the remainder of the evening.
Next up was Sumac, a band admittedly only known to me in name only. However, their credentials speak for themselves. Consisting of current and previous members of bands such as Isis, Old Man Gloom, Baptists, and Russian Circles, this was sure to be a band that could put on a show. Sumac put on a punishing set of sludge metal. Drummer Nick Yacyshyn completely stole the show with both his technique and energy, while guitarist Aaron Turner laid down some slick licks that got the audience pumped up.
The only downside was that Sumac stood out as an outlier on the bill. It was the other side of the same coin. Boris, MONO and Envy all have an elegance to the noise they create, while Sumac is pure pounding punishment. I had a suspicion that Sumac would fit in better in with the line-up at Unit.
Taka, at the end of the set, manipulating his instruments in the way only he knows how.
Photo credit Anas Saleh (2015)
When MONO took the stage next, I had a bit of deja vu happening. I saw them recently in San Francisco where they played a very similar set. Nonetheless, they were more energetic and dynamic than their San Francisco set. Bassist Tamaki Kunishi seemed more relaxed in this space and as a result, her bass came through better. She was rather hypnotic and elegant throughout the entire performance.
Lead guitarist and leader, Takaakira “Taka” Goto, is always the one to watch. His entire body and self ebbs and flows throughout the set, creating an emotional energy that radiates throughout the venue. Performing always seems to be a very personal experience for Taka. This makes watching MONO play a treat, like we’re watching a private and intimate moment.
Rounding up the night was Boris. Now, for those that don’t know, when you go to Boris show, there are two different kinds of Boris you can encounter. This night, the experimental, noisy boris showed up. They played a dream setlist from songs across their discography. The size of the venue played in their favor and allowed them to play louder and experiment more than how I’ve seen them in the past.
Boris premiered a new song, “More“, which reminded me of “Surrender” from urban dance. The song only continued to raise my hopes for where the next Boris album is headed. “More” was followed up by another newish track “Killmister“, which premiered at the May show with Endon.
Boris brought their top effort to the show, knowing the acts that they had to follow. They were respectful to their peers, and didn’t seek to overshadow them. If anything, their set was a cool down for the audience. After three highly emotional sets, Boris was there to bring us back down to the ground and settle us. I noticed the audience seemed hypnotized as the threesome made their way through the wall of sound. It was a good moment to reflect on the kind of night that just happened. Four bands, making up a perfect line up, playing near perfect sets. Not much more to ask for, and the following night had big shoes to follow.
The recap of night two at Daikanyama Unit is coming soon.
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