If you are looking for the perfect soundtrack to plug into the 8-track of your Huey helicopter as you fly over the jungle, the Black Angels have you covered. If this description sounds overly dramatic, consider that the group has a single called “The First Vietnamese War” and a side project called Viet Minh, specifically referencing the resistance group that pushed the French out of Vietnam.
The Black Angels emerged from thick fog on Tuesday to lay down their aggressive psychedelic rock before a sold out crowd of mostly male hipsters at the Bluebird Theater. Featuring fuzzy guitars, dramatic arrangements, retro keyboards and spacey vocals, the band is a rolling sonic assault on stage.
Showcasing tracks from their latest release, “Phosphene Dream,” the band exploded with familiar songs like “Bad Vibrations,” the antithesis of the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations.” It was dark and dramatic and filled with heavy distortion.
On “Phosphene Dream” the band took a wandering, distorted journey with choppy vocals and heavy effects. The better known “Black Grease” from the band’s “Passover” album worked the crowd into utter frenzy.
The Black Angels is one of those bands that make better live music than recorded, which is saying quite a lot. Their most recent release marks the band’s first time working with a producer and features considerably shorter and more concise tracks than their previous works. These same songs were given new energy and breadth in a live setting.
“Run for the hills, pick up your feet and let’s go,” the band sang on the closing “Young Dead Men,” but it was clear that the crowd really had no interest in going anywhere.
The Denver-based band Overcasters opened the show projecting trippy visuals alongside their echoing, expansive, fuzzy rock sound and set the mood just right before the Black Angels took flight.
Allen Klosowski is the social media strategist for The Denver Post. Check out his photos online.
Nathan Iverson is a Denver photographer and regular contributor to Reverb.