KEXP at Iceland Airwaves, Day 3: Bo Ningen

Next on the KEXP broadcast live from Kex Hostel at Iceland Airwaves Music Festival was wild Japanese psychadelic punk band Bo Ningen. A four-piece acid-punk band all hailing from Japan, but got together as a band in London in 2006-7.  Taigen Kwabe (vocal & bass) met Kohhei Matsuda (guitar) in 2006 when their respective post rock bands shared a bill. After one very unsuccessful show, the band began to jam together 10-12 hours a day in a studio in Hackney, London, and finally they found their audience. They’ve said that “being ‘psychedelic’ means to us that stand quietly / loudly in the middle of interzone and stare at both sides at once,” and while they agree on the “psychadelic” label, the band has said that they’re baffled by the “acid” label applied to them.

The show started with a bang. Super fast drums and wailing reverby guitar complimented by a hurricane of waist-length black hair. Their sound was heavy, fast, and psychadelic, with frantic shrieking in Japanese from the androgynous frontman. They quickly transformed this small hostel bar into a raging rock club. The crowd was absolutely loving it, eagerly bobbing and dancing along. Bo Ningen’s recordings are fantastic, but this is a band best and most wholly experienced in the raw energy of a live show.

As the show progressed, things only got weirder, more frantic, and more incredible. Every time we thought “Daikalsei Part II, III” was about to end, something even wilder would happen. Fast/driving drum beats and distorted guitar built up to an anarchic fervor, with singer Taigen shouting and grimacing while guitarist Kohhei swung his guitar from the head into a full windmill. It was like watching a rock & roll exorcism.

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