On 07/07/07 at 7:07 pm, 77 drummers led by Yamantaka Eye of the noise rock band Boredoms arranged themselves in a spiral formation in Brooklyn Bridge Park to perform an event called the 77 Boadrum. In the center of the spiral were four drumkits on a raised platform, for Boredoms members Yojiro Tatekawa, Yoshimi P-We, Muneomi Senju, and of course Yamantaka Eye, who was not officially included in the 77. Leading the rhythms with various electronic effects, Eye was surrounded by drummers and audience members for 77 minutes, like the conductor or ringleader of a bizarre congregation.
You are the 78th member! This is because the sound will spiral outwards, from left to right, like DNA, from deep inside of us right out to you. The 77 drum group is one giant instrument, one living creature. The 77 boa-drum will coil like a snake and transform to become a great dragon! - Yamantaka Eye
Eye was in charge of the whole thing, but the structure of the performance was complex, so seven group leaders were appointed to lead sections of the musicians. Drummers from bands such as Lightning Bolt, Man Man, Holy Fuck, Andrew W.K., Modest Mouse, Gang Gang Dance, and nearly seventy others were participants in this one-time event*.
It started out slow, with a torrent of cymbals rolling out for over a minute. The performers then began to pound out single beats in unison, and with every beat one more drummer came in and added his or her drum to the ponderous, thunderous, glacial rhythm. At this point, there was only drums and cymbals. It was very stripped down; music at its most basic, but becoming more meaningful rather than less.
When the last drummer in the spiral boa formation (Brian Chippendale of Lightning Bolt) added his contribution to the monolithic crack of drums, it began proper. Still slowly pounding, a few performers started to add rolls and stray beats to accent the rhythm, and Eye shouted and created a whirlwind of electronic noise among the solemn and ritualistic drum sounds.
As the concert continued, the beat sped up and slowed down, but never loses its impact. Just the fact that the 77 drummers are playing together should be enough to impress any listener of music. Eye's droning noise contributions over the course of the event add an entire other dimension. The electronic wails and hums are never overpowering, and help to keep the interest of those for whom drums are not satisfactory on their own (though why they would watch something like this, I cannot say).
On video, it looks less impressive. As a once-in-a-lifetime musical event, I imagine that witnessing the 77 Boadrum with one's own ears would have been practically a religious experience. Nonetheless, Boredoms released an album in 2008 entitled 77 Boa Drum, which is fairly obviously a recording of the performance. It's interesting to listen to, but I'm hazarding a guess that it doesn't compare to the experience itself.
*The 77 Boadrum was only performed once, as the recurrance of the number 7 in the date 07/07/07 was central to the idea. However, on August 8, 2008, two concerts were held in the United States, one in Brooklyn and one in Los Angeles, each with 88 drummers playing together.