I only saw a few of Helms Alee but they are an intriguing band. They have a hard hitting drummer, a funky bassist and a nosy guitar player. They play loud but there is a lot of space in the music. I would like to hear more.
Red Sparrowes have too many guitarists (according to my rules). They make nice sound textures that make me think of Meddle-era Pink Floyd (this is a good thing). At times they lacked focus, but it was all very pleasant.
Boris are that Japanese band who play any and all combination of sludge/psychedelic/doom/dirge/drone/metal just as long as it is HEAVY. If you ever go to ye olde record shoppe you have probably seen this amusing cover to one of their recordings:
They were playing with touring guitarist Michio Kurihara who stands off to one side to make his status clear. I love Boris's recordings but I found it hard at first to appreciate the concert. It all seemed a bit clinical despite the fact that drummer Atsuo is a rock monster.
After a big things got going and a mosh pit formed. I was enjoying standing near the pit but some indie kid kept trying to push me in. I told him to stop but he persisted. The next time he pushed I seized his arm and flung him into the seething pit. He tried to bounce around but immediately fell over and got kicked. I had instantaneous visions of him being crushed to death and me having to deal with the conviction oriented American legal system. Fortunately for us both he was picked up and set on his feet. Sadly I felt upset by the whole incident and it was hard to concentrate as Boris did were not very interactive.