Psychedelic hooks never seem to get old, or maybe they have a Disney-esque evergreen about them. This is the result of constant recycling of one sound to new, fresh audiences. And this conundrum has to be the explanation for the Black Angels’ appeal, because they’re not doing anything new, and yet they still ride a national rock buzz.
Now a four-piece, the Austin band’s show at the Boulder Theater Friday night kept promising to explode into sweet guitar riffs and hypnotic drones, but it never happened (just like it doesn’t on the records). Even the packed front of the house was unable to maintain mosh energy for a full song — not even during the anthemic “Don’t Play With Guns” or “Manipulation.” The first few measures of songs would surge with excitement and a familiar drone or riff. Then about half way through, cellphones would spring up from pockets and boredom ensued and lives went on.
This disconnect wasn’t from lack of talent. The Angels played nearly textbook psychedelic rock that may as well have been peeled directly from “Nuggets.” Their technique, their musicality and their grasp of ‘60s psychedelia are remarkable — just like their records. So it must’ve been the fact that most of the folks in the audience had no familiarity with the bands the Black Angels were imitating. And, even though that “psychedelic sound” has a way of rooting into the mind and to stick like rock candy, the Black Angels failed to make a valid connection.
Even this young audience realized that an imitation of a masterpiece — even one masterfully executed — is still just imitation.
Joshua Elioseff is a Boulder based photographer of everything, a self-professed music junkie and regular contributor to Reverb. Check his photos out on Facebook or his website.