Mention of the band Goat brings to mind a certain group of Swedes in elaborate costumes. The Japanese band Goat, however, are far more minimalistic. Their stuttering, rhythm-driven music is often austere, their style of playing is extremely efficient.
It’s a busy night for guitarist/drummer Koshiro Hino, who opens the evening with a set of his YPY project. Compared with the austerity of Goat, YPY is positively lush. The percussion is softer and there is a high frequency whine similar to the sounds emitted by electronic gadgets — the first sounds to go when you lose your hearing. The tables around Koshiro are scattered with dozens of cassette tapes.
Goat opens with dueling hi-hats. The gentle, synchronized clacking is shattered when the first kick drum hits like a sledgehammer, disabusing the audience of the notion that, for as repetitive and steady as the beats are, they could possibly be meditative. The bass has almost zero reverb, creating an anxious timbre that Devo could only dream of.
This lack of transcendence is practically a theme for the set; the focus of the entire band is intense, their playing is highly coordinated. There are two drummers or a drummer and percussionist at a minimum, and the glances the band members communicate through have the hard focus of an angry glare. But for their minimal movements, they are fascinating to watch. These glances back and forth trigger astounding changes, such as when Koshiro suddenly plays harmonics on his guitar timed perfectly to rapid first hits on a hi-hat, shifting to an instantly percussive sound.
The majority of the set follows this halting pattern, which makes the final 15 minutes of noise washes hit the audience hard. After all of the energy of their playing has built up, it spills out in a final, furious cacophony. The audience are physically moved; Half are swaying, half are holding their ears because of the shock. It’s not surprising that they end with the same perfectly-time abruptness that has factored throughout their set.
In response to the rapturous applause, Koshiro comes back to the stage alone. “Thank you,” he says, leaning into the drum mic. “No more songs.”