Black Angels at the Bluebird Theater, 12/30/12 (photos, review)By Mike Long | January 2nd, 2013 | 1 Comment »
A welcome development the past few years has been bands playing multi-night shows around New Year’s Eve. Consumer tip: If you really like a band, go hear them on the 30th. New Year’s Eve shows tend to be all about “THE NIGHT” (over-indulging by a frightening amount of people who haven’t properly trained for it). The focus the night before is on the music — not an event.
Austin psych band, the Black Angels, is popular in Colorado, having sold out the first night of its two-night stand at the Bluebird Theater. Opening the Sunday night show with their iconic, “Young Man Dead,” set things off immediately, reaching a level some bands take half a set to reach. Why NOT open a show with the greatest (certainly, the most foreboding) riff of the past decade? It may be the band’s most widely known song, but it was just one of the evening’s highlights from the BA Sunday night set.
Arguably THE premier psych band now, the Black Angels’ hypnotic riff-driven drones create a dark, dystopic, Dionysian atmosphere far thicker than some run-of-the-mill smoke machine could ever create.
Alex Maas’ vocals, Christian Bland and (on this tour) Elephant Stone member, Rishi Dhir’s guitars (Dhir also played sitar) were the obvious ingredients. Underneath it all, yet just as vital to the experience, was drummer Stephanie Bailey, moving the unsettling, yet irresistible, slither along. Multi-instrumentalist, Kyle Hunt, on occasional floor tom, added an even deeper, weightier aural texture.
A few newer songs from a forthcoming release fit in seamlessly with audience favorites from all three of their main releases, 2010’s “Phosphene Dream,” 2008’s “Directions To See A Ghost” and their debut album, “Passover,” from 2006. Adding to the sonic other-worldly atmosphere was a vivid, multi-color blitz of a background projection show, along with the frequent, piquant smell of recently legalized marijuana. New Year’s Eve or not, it made for an excellent night of the Black Angels “un-easy listening” music.
Mike Long is a Longmont-based writer and comedian and a regular contributor to Reverb.