Well, as they say, better late than never. I finally got a report on the Black Angels show at Psych Fest from concert buddy Chris Kinney. He’s been busy with his pool league. He was impressed with the Black Angels’ performance, and by the skill and grace they showed as hosts of the music festival held April 29-May 1, 2011 at Seaholm Power Plant in Austin. He didn’t write about them, but snapped a nice pic of a group that impressed him called Sound Mass, which played at the end of the last night. Like me, he was also totally blown away by the venue itself. It’s right in prime development territory, so there’s a danger that cash-strapped Austin might sell it and let it be demolished and replaced by a high rise. I sure hope not. Let’s hope Seaholm becomes a fixture in the Austin live music scene.
Chris Kinney on The Black Angels:
My first sighting of Christian Bland, the lead singer of the Black Angels, in his nice little conductor’s hat, was directing security on how to deal with incoming musicians. Christian Bland was always there orchestrating the bands.
That is when I realized my excitement for the whole festival. Bands were already playing and everyone was on the precipice of entering the venue. I walked into a sea of vintage merchandise and vinyl records. At that point, the vastness of the power plant overcame me. I felt a sense of awe due to the space. All I wanted to do was explore it and suddenly, I didn’t care about the music. The harsh reality of daylight filtering in through windows and doorways…..Once the daylight was gone and the artificial lighting came on, it created a sense of the surreal. Entering a building the size of an aircraft hanger was inspiring.
The Black Angels – The prodigal children of the Austin psychedelic music movement found their roost. They were received like some of the greatest rock acts I’ve seen live. Christian Bland was overcome with the success of the festival. He gave great thanks to the audience and all the bands that participated in such a wonderful happening. The way he spoke, it sounded as if he found the festival to be something beyond his imagining. Then they broke into their set and throughout it, they did not miss a single beat. With the few breaks in their set, he expressed his elation about how the entire festival turned out. All eyes were on the Black Angels. They did not disappoint.
I’ve listened to many bands and done the research on what inspired them and the term “psychedelia” came up many times. I was watching ME television, a public broadcast station in Austin that is now defunct, and saw the video for the Black Angel’s song, “Black Grease.” I found inspiration as well as speculation because they sounded like something from a different era, with a hint of our generation. I found a hook and I purchased their album. It made me reassess psychedelic music. There was the rawness of a garage band and the correlations to bands such as Jefferson Airplane and artists such as Syd Barrett. For lack of a better term, this wasn’t pussy-produced, pre-fab music. This was a band who knew how to play their instruments, sing, write a good song, and bring back something that has been dead for a long time and make it new. The Black Angels are solely responsible for reviving a form of music that has influenced some of the best new music of our newer generations.
On the venue…
With this building, I have trepidation because it’s near perfect. It is frightening because of its vastness and there are open pits with particle board walls to keep you from falling fifty feet down. You look into these pits and you see stairways that you do not find in an everyday building. Their angles are difficult and they go to platforms with shear drops without railings or walls.. Someone had the aesthetic sense to include ambient lighting in the bottom of these deep pits, thus creating an aspect of the underworld below the foundation, akin to Dante’s Inferno done by Dore.
On May 28th:, there will be a Pink Floyd laser-light show at the Seaholm. This will be the last event there before bureaucrats create a space that is accepted by our community.