The Japanese word gō'on can be rendered in English as a "roaring sound." It's often used to describe the loud levels of volume at a concert, which typically hit around 120 decibels.
When rock trio Boris and noise musician Merzbow performed at the 300-capacity Shindaita Fever venue in Tokyo last year in November, however, the volume reportedly reached levels as high as 130.6 db (a single shotgun blast is around 140 db). Suddenly, the word "gō'on" became quite literal, and had some critics questioning whether other groups were truly deserving of the descriptor.
"We've been doing this for 20 years. We sort of risk life and limb; we carry a lot of amps and there are times when we actually do get sick from the loudness," says Atsuo, Boris' drummer and de-facto spokesperson. "But during the show it feels good. Loud sounds that take over everything can make the air shake, until nothing can shake anymore. It's as if the air, our bodies and the room become one. There's a certain euphoria from blurring those lines. It's a bit like touching the audience with sound."