Tag Archives: Black Angels

Psych Fest 2013 – another memorable festival

Psych Fest 2013 was a blast as usual. I’ll go into some detail, but, first, some memories that stick out in my mind…

Sore feet and ears ringing like the bells of Ireland, seeing Black Mountain, The Black Angels, Soft Moon, and Dead Skeletons, getting caught in a downpour, getting to see Joel Gion from the Brian Jonestown Massacre and seeing a young a woman walk through the crowd wearing nothing but a belt and some kind of fringe – no one seemed to notice. All in all, a memorable festival that introduced me to some great new bands, and gave me a fresh look at ones I’d seen before.

The Venue – Carson Creek Ranch

For the first time, the event was held at Carson Creek Ranch, near the airport. I think it will likely be held there every year. It was a pain in the ass to get to, but I think I’ll figure it out a lot easier next year.

I give it a thumbs up overall. There were big grassy expanses with a few shade trees you could sit under in between shows, lots of vendors, three stages, including the amphitheater on the bank of the Colorado River. Lots of hippies relaxing next to the water. Too bad for them I also noticed a fair amount of poison ivy growing on the river bank. Biggest hitch with the venue was the parking area. It was fine at first, but when it got wet it turned into a real mess.

Friday night – Soft Moon and Warpaint win the night
On Friday night the first band to catch my ear–and my eye was an all-girl group called Warpaint. They were hot and they rocked hard. The drummer in particular blew me away. Their music was dark, tribal and not so much catchy as hypnotic. There was one long, Joy Divisionesque jam that really got me in a trance.

The biggest band of the night for me was Soft Moon. They played intense, dark new wave, industrial-sounding music. I saw them at the power plant at Psych Fest 2011 at the small stage and they impressed me then. This time they were even better. The bassist was mechanical and expressionless, while the singer jumped around like crazy, sometimes shouting into the mike and twiddling knobs to produce a squall of distortion. They gave my earplugs a hell of a workout, but I could have listened to them all night.

The Silver Apples…. One of the shows I never thought I would see. I’ve been a fan of this seminal electronic music act for a long time. His show didn’t have the impact on me that I had been hoping for. I think listening to Silver Apples’ recorded comes across as dark and intriguing. In person, it was brighter. I could make out lyrics better and the hippie poetry made it seem a bit more mainstream psych and not as interesting. I loved how obviously joyful Simeon was though. He’s back in the career he loves and has an audience that appreciates him. The kids really seemed to love him.

Saturday – Black Mountain, Kaleidoscope and one hell of a rain storm

The biggest story on Saturday night was probably the hellacious rainstorm that hit around 10:30 p.m., but Chris Kinney and I saw some good shows before that. We started with a few mediocre bands and had a chance to eat, etc. Then we ran into a big dilemma: Black Mountain vs. Kaleidoscope. Both were killer. Both were playing around the same time — Black Mountain at the main stage, Kaleidoscope at the amphitheater. We did our best to catch some of each show.

Kaleidoscope (UK)  is another seminal psych band I was surprised to find a the festival. The UK band put on a hell of a show, very traditional ’60s psych, just like they made back in the day. The light show on the river and in the trees on the other bank really made it magical.

Black Mountain on the other hand, had an excellent old school ’70s sound, from that period when psych was mutating into hard rock. I really enjoyed their spaced-out jam version of “No Hits.”

We wandered around and saw a few different shows. Man or Astroman was enjoyable, but the Levitation tent was packed and we couldn’t get very close. They were sort of a hard surf punk version of Devo. They wore costumes and had a lot of silly banter. “You think these are costumes. They are not. They are the apparatus that allows us to exist in your atmosphere.”

Part of the reason they were so popular was the weather. It was already starting to rain off and on. Os Mutantes was just about to start playing when serious rain started to fall. Then the bottom fell out.

Chris K and I headed to his car to get an umbrella, then the bottom fell out of the clouds and it rained so hard I couldn’t even see him. The parking area was paved with caliche, a whitish clay-rich dirt that was smooth and hard as concrete until it got wet, but the hard rain turned it into horrible clinging mud that built up on my shoes and made stains in my car I still haven’t gotten out.

Chris K and I got separated and ended up bailing. Chris went back to catch some shows, but the bands were moving their equipment to get out of the wet and I was cowering in my car. We ended up back at his place, scrubbing mud off our shoes. Whether any bands played after that I couldn’t say.

Sunday night – Black Angels, Goat, Dead Skeletons and their awesome surprise guest…

As always seems to be the case, they saved some of the best stuff for Sunday night, so I had to stay up late and be worn out at work the next day. Worth it.

Roky Erickson played again this year and I’m glad. He got treated with the respect he deserves and I think he should be at every Psych Fest. We owe him a huge debt. His performance was pretty similar to the one I saw two years ago at the power plant. He seems to do better with his solo stuff than with the Elevators’ material. I listened for a while, but mainly spent that time with Chris K, wandering around the grounds, checking out other acts at the river and looking at the merch tables.

Indian Jewelry was the first band to float our boats. Their music was a mix of psych and electro-clash, dark and hypnotic. The drummer was a particularly hot chick. Really cool designs in the projections behind the band also. We were enjoying the show, but then Chris K’s spidey sense kicked in and he suggested we go down to the amphitheater stage and see if there was anyone worth hearing. There was indeed.

Dead Skeletons of Iceland turned out to be the big discovery of Psych Fest 2013 for both of us. Just as they were about to perform, a 747 roared overhead. Perfect timing. They had a lot of members. Seven, I think. They were extremely together and made me think of a heavier version of Spiritualized.

We were soon faced with another dilemma. The Black Angels were performing and I wanted to catch some of their show even though we were enjoying Dead Skeletons. We made our way to the main stage and heard some of the Black Angels and indeed they were good. For some reason though, Chris K’s spidey sense kicked in once again and we decided to go check out Dead Skeletons one more time.

They were in the middle of an awesome extended jam and Chris suddenly noticed the guest musician: tambourinist Joel Gion of the Brian Jonestown Massacre. He was with BJM at Psych Fest last year, but this is the first time I had a close look at him. He’s older than the fun-loving stoner you see in the documentary Dig, but there’s no mistaking the nonchalant manner and smirk. Seeing him made the festival for me. You gotta love how he got to be a star by playing the tambourine.

We saw another very intriguing group at the amphitheater stage called Goat. They were a Swedish band with a sound that incorporated many influences: prog, funk, psych, and Afropop. Vocals reminded me of Japanese pop. The members wore masks and tribal-looking costumes.

We finished with the Growlers, an old school garage/psych group that we had seen two years ago at the power plant. They had an entertaining show, with stage props that included rainbow penises, space aliens and cactuses. As the show went on, the music delved more into acid rock territory and some demented circus music. Very entertaining.


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Black Angels have topped themselves with Indigo Meadow


I have seldom looked forward to a music festival as much as I am Psych Fest 2013, set for April 26-28 in Austin. As is usually the case, I will probably come back raving about some obscure bands I never heard of before. It’s a great place to discover new faves. This year, however, I’m very excited to see The Black Angels, the guys who put on the festival, even though they play Sunday and I will be so tired the next day. The reason is their latest album, Indigo Meadow. I like it much better than Phosphene Dream, the 2010 album everyone raved about.

Usually when I review an album, I try to pick out the influences. Byrds, Doors, Jefferson Airplane, 13th Floor Elevators? All those influences are there and more, I’m certain. These guys are so passionate about psychedelic music that they started a festival and a music label (Reverbation Appreciation Society) to celebrate it. I don’t much care though. This album is so good, I just don’t feel like picking it apart. I would much rather just sit back and enjoy the music. 

The tunes and propulsive rhythms make the songs irresistible. I am especially nuts about the title track and “Don’t Play With Guns,” but I enjoy the entire album immensely. It’s in constant rotation on my car stereo and on the laptop. I get the feeling that with this release, the band has become so at home in this genre that it is now just effortlessly making songs. It doesn’t sound like someone making neo-psych music, it sounds like a collection of great songs. I feel like the Black Angels capture that period where ’60s psych music quit being about peace & love and began to turn dark.

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April 19, 2013 · 10:41 pm

Austin Psych Fest first day: Disappears killed it

Disappears - awesome performance at Psych Fest 2012. (Cellphone camera couldn't cut the mustard so I nabbed this one off the band's Facebook page.)

Just starting to feel human again after a late night at Psych Fest. As usual, the band I enjoyed most wasn’t the one I expected it to be. Best performance and a definite band to watch, is the Chicago-based band Disappears.

I did enjoy the bands we went to see: Dead Meadow were very good and The Black Angels were great as always, I enjoyed a few other bands as well, both at Emo’s East and the Beauty Ballroom. The thing is, none of that really jumped out at me. It was the kind of fare you expect to hear at a festival devoted to psychedelic music – lots of reverb, lots of Velvet Underground influence.

Disappears stood out from the crowd (kind of an amusing statement now that I think of it). They were very together, every member knowing what the others were doing at all times. Different rhythms, vocals higher in the mix. I got a strong postpunk vibe from them. They made me think of bands like Joy Division, Magazine and The Fall.

Chris, my concert buddy, was so impressed he bought three of their CDs. I would have if I hadn’t been a little strapped after buying a few drinks. We played through a couple of the albums after we got back to Chris’s appartment and their latest – Pre Language – is unquestionably the best. The others were good also, but they had a different sound, reminding me a lot of the Stooges.

Here’s one of their best in my opinion:

BTW, I just found out after a bit of searching that their drummer is Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth.

Disappears will be playing in Dallas tonight and in Memphis, Tenn. tomorrow night. They are also getting ready for a summer tour of Europe. Check out their website for more. Also visit their store. You can get Pre Language for $12. Worth it I would say. And check out their Facebook page.

Bands I look forward to seeing tonight include Pink Mountaintops, Olivia Tremor Control, Telescope and the Black Lips. But who knows? Best show might once again be someone completely off my radar.

Emo’s East

I’ve decided I really like the new Emo’s East location on East Riverside Drive. I will miss the old location on 6th Street. I saw so many great shows there. But this one is big, still homey somehow, and they kept a lot of the art from the old place – like the creepy/weird/trippy painting of the elephant cutting open its third eye and the one of Johnny Cash flipping the bird.

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Getting psyched for Psych Fest 2012

I’ve been so busy lately that I just now had time to check out the lineup for this year’s Psych Fest. There are some killer bands on the bill this year. I really enjoyed last year’s festival, which was held at the decommissioned Seaholm Power Plant. This year, the festival will be at Emo’s East and the nearby Beauty Ballroom on Riverside Drive.

I’m going to miss that weird industrial aesthetic, and the fact that you could go from the “big” stage to the “small” one to check out different bands without leaving the building. We’re going to have to walk a little more this time. There are advantages to having two separate venues, however. There was a certain amount of interference between bands last time.

Some of the bands I’m psyched about include: Brian Jonestown Massacre, Pink Mountaintops, Telescopes, Dead Meadow, Olivia Tremor Control, and of course, the Black Angels. And as always, I look forward to checking out some bands that I don’t know anything about that could turn out to be new favorites. I discovered some great ones last year.

Here’s a link to the official site. There might still be time to get tickets. And in any case, here is Al Lover’s Psych Fest Mixtape. Tons of great music.

And check out my posts about last year’s festival here and here,

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Black Angels and the psych revival (Psych Fest 2011 wrap-up)

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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.

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Psych Fest 2011: tons of great music in a weird, awesome venue – what a trip!

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I didn’t have any “enhancements” at Psych Fest 2011 last weekend, April 29-May 2 — unless you count the mild contact high I got from all the second-hand pot smoke — but I still had a great, trippy experience. I was especially excited about getting to see Roky Erickson for the first time.
The three-day event was held at the recently decommissioned Seaholm Power Plant which was an excellent setting. All those pipes, conduits, valves, stairways leading into God knows where, openings in the floor leading into mysterious chambers two stories below… All that stuff once had a very practical purpose, but ended up creating a weird sort of aesthetic.
Seaholm has great acoustics – especially the big room containing Stage 1 and all the vendors. Stage 2’s smaller room was a bit louder, but it was pretty cool that those two stages could have shows at the same time and not interfere.
I didn’t catch every band and I’m sure I missed a few good ones, but I saw several shows by acts I knew were going to be great, and they definitely were. I also discovered some new favorites.

Below are some of the highlights. I’m going to break my journalist code and forsake the inverted pyramid. Bands are in the order I saw them, not according to how much I liked them.

(And many thanks to blog commenter Christopher Kinney for turning me onto this festival and being a great concert buddy.)

Friday Night, April 29

Beach Fossils

Beach Fossils

This was the first band I heard when I turned up on Friday. They have a nice postpunk sound. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but they put me in mind of bands like Modern English and the Comsat Angels. The bass and rhythm guitar really captured that vibe for me.

Night Beats vs. Blue Angel Lounge

Night Beats

I had a real dilemma as Night Beats was still performing on Stage 1 as Blue Angel Lounge cranked up on Stage 2. I really started getting into Night Beats, which had a cool twangy cowboy psyched-out rockabilly aesthetic, with projections of RV travel trailers zipping by on the screen behind them.
I was then alerted to the fact that Blue Angel Lounge was cool and needed to be checked out. They were right in my postpunk/goth sweet spot. They reminded me of bands like Interpol and Clinic. Dark and hypnotic. Very good. I’m not the only one who thought so. The crowd got a lot bigger after Night Beats finished and Blue Angel Lounge really got a great response.
If I only I could’ve cloned myself and seen both shows at once.

Atlas Sound

Atlas Sound

Atlas Sound is the solo project of Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox. He was the first truly psychedelic act I heard on Friday night. Trippy, hypnotic and downright beautiful. He is a one-man band, singing and playing acoustic guitar, using loops and reverb to create an amazing tapestry of sound.

Crystal Stilts
I liked these guys – they came across as very ‘60s, with a Velvet Underground influence.

This is the band that Christopher was itching to see. It’s a side project of several members of Black Moth Super Rainbow. They had a funky mix of hip hop beats and electronic sounds. I thought they were good, and the crowd they drew went nuts over them, but I wasn’t as crazy about it as Christopher was, mainly because I was in the mood for the kind of psychedelic music Atlas Sound put out, full of reverb, feedback and distortion. Tobacco did start to sound more psychedelic as the show went on, getting into some cool, hypnotic grooves.

Saturday, April 30

First band of the day for me. I liked them a lot more than Chris did. They looked like “indie” guys, but their music was drugged out, sludgy metal. They made me think of Soundgarden. Black Sabbath had to be a big influence as well.

Black Ryder
I enjoyed this one. Kind of a gothic shoegaze sound. They harmonized nicely and had some good tunes. At times I thought of the Chameleons.

White Hills
Like Pontiak these guys were a bit sludgy, but more energetic and uptempo, and with vocals.

Sleepy Sun
This was my discovery on Saturday. They had a bluesy, feedback drenched vibe and used a lot of reverb to create a wall of sound. The singer had a good voice – which is important with bands like this. They also had some good tunes. I liked them enough to buy a CD (Fever) and sign up for the mailing list. I have played Fever several times over the last few days and it gets better with each listen. It makes me think of bands from the early ‘70s that had elements of blues, hard rock, psych and prog all at once. They’re mining the same territory as Black Mountain.



Best show on Saturday night. Very energetic feedback-drenched sound. They performed a bunch of songs from their excellent album Sleep Forever (in my top 5 from 2010). The singer had a great stage presence. Lots of dancing and jumping around. Wearing sunglasses and a black T-shirt with a grinning skull. He reminds me a young Lou Reed.
I’ve been itching to see them live since I first heard their cover of Deee Lite’s “Groove is in the Heart” on Dandelion Radio — and they didn’t disappoint. They got great crowd response too. Maybe they’re on their way to getting the props they deserve.

Indian Jewelry
They came across to me as a kind of gothic industrial (a style that Chris informs me is known as electro-clash) and featured a stand-up drummer who created a pounding tribal beat.

Soft Moon
Awesome industrial. These guys put on a hell of a show on stage 2, with programmed. Mechanical sounding beats and a vocalist who sometimes sang, sometimes made wicked-sounding utterances. The projection was focused in the center of the room so that the shapes, stars and intersecting lines seemed to rush toward us. Very cool effect that went well with the music.

Black Moth Super Rainbow
I saw them on Saturday night and thought they were powerful and innovative. Funky, with electronic noise and vocals run through a vocoder. I liked them, but I have to admit I didn’t get how crazy everyone went for them. They got a big crowd and a big response. Some people told me they came to the festival to see them specifically. Maybe this is a band that will grow on me.

Another discovery. They were playing at 1 a.m., right around the time our little crew began to run out of steam. If they had gone onstage earlier when I had more energy I would’ve been all over their show. As it was I had to take in part of it sitting outside, trying to rest my feet and my aching back. They were doing a sort of shoegaze, working against drones and doing extended pieces that could either come across as monotonous or hypnotic depending on whether you were feeling it. At times they reminded me of Spiritualized. At other times their music made me think of the long spoken word songs by the Doors like “This is the End” and “When the Music’s Over.”

I think Jim Morrison had to be a big influence.

Sunday, May 1

The Black Hollies
I liked these guys. Sort of a twisted ’60s sound with a Farfisa organ (or something that sounded like one). Like Spectrum, this band reminded me of the Doors, but they were a little more pop-oriented, not as psychedelic.

Daughters of the Sun

Daughters of the Sun

Great discovery. To look at this trio of long-haired musicians from Minnesota, you might expect them to be a metal band — one member was wearing a Judas Priest vest. You would be wrong. Not that I don’t love metal, but this was a lot more interesting. Their music was a very psychedelic mixture of electronics, guitar and reverb, dreamy vocals and lots of very tribal-sounding percussion. They had two drummers and a singer-guitarist who also banged on the drums for some songs. I liked them so much I went looking for CDs, found they had sold out, and bought a handmade cassette EP of Net Wt. instead. Would’ve bought the vinyl version of their latest album, Ghost with Chains, but I don’t have a player. Their music can be found as mp3 downloads on Amazon, iTunes and at their labels Modern Radio.com and NotNotFun Records.

Dirty Beaches

Dirty Beaches

In a word: Intriguing. Dirty Beaches, aka Alex Zhang Hungtai is a one-man band, singing, playing guitar and using loops, programmed beats and other electronic sounds. He had a ’50s greaser look, with a white T-shirt, slicked back hair and tatooed arms. Some of his songs had a retro sound also, especially the one he dedicated “to the lovers.” After combing his hair back, Fonzie-style.
One song was a shouted, spoken word piece with a freakout guitar solo. Very cool.

Pete International Airport

Pete International Airport

It took me a while to warm up to this band, but once I got them I was impressed. The singer had a low, almost monotone delivery. I thought of Sisters of Mercy. Chris was reminded of Fields of the Nephilim and Mission UK. He wore sunglasses and had a hint of menace about him that made me think of Blue Oyster Cult’s Don Roesser. Great frontman, really. I also loved the melodic plucked bass and the fact that the band had two drummers.

The Growlers

The Growlers

Very good band with a great sense of melody. They had a bit of ‘60s garage, a bit of surf, a bit of country & western and just basic great all around pop. Strange as that sounds, it really works. They had a great stage presence and really hit it off with the crowd.

Roky Erickson

Roky Erickson

Roky is the main reason I decided to fork over the money for the weekend pass. I’ve wanted to see him ever since I learned he was performing again. I’ve been following his story for years. His 1960s band the 13th Floor Elevators were arguably the first psychedelic band. Roky has struggled with mental health issues for years and slowly reemerged as a performing, recording musician again, thanks in large part to love from his fans in Austin. We love the man and we’re not ready to let him go.
I saw him on Sunday night. After his show I felt like I could go home. I thought he put on a hell of a show. I felt like his guitar work was a bit sharper on his solo works like “Two Headed Dog” and “Night of the Vampire” than with his Elevators songs, though he kicked ass on “You’re Gonna Miss Me” during the encore. I loved all of it though. He rocked. Hell of a backing band too. He’s a legend and I feel very lucky that I got to see him.

Black Angels (stay tuned on this one)
If there seems to be a glaring omission, that’s because I missed the Black Angels show. I didn’t like it, but they weren’t going on till around 11 p.m. and I knew Monday was going to be a brutal work day (it was). Since I saw them not too long ago, I went ahead and lit out. Fortunately, Chris was able to stick around and I’ll pass along his impression of that show soon.

Edit: I previously said I thought Pontiak would’ve been better with a vocalist. Turns out they have one. I just got dragged over to the first stage before I could hear him sing. Also… Christopher Kinney is still chipping away at his review of the Black Angels show. He hasn’t forgotten.


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An evening of blackness – Black Mountain and Black Angels perform in Austin, Nov. 19, 2010

The Black Angels - best I could do with my crappy cellphone camera. One of these days I'm gonna upgrade I swear.

Last night was a night for learning lessons. The ticket line into the Black Mountain/Black Angels concert stretched back for what seemed like a half a block, at least 50 people in front of us. You could hear Black Mountain working through the setlist. A big chunk of no doubt awesome rock ‘n’ roll already down the tubes and the line was barely moving.

Meanwhile, the guy at the gate at La Zona Rosa shouted, “Everyone on the guest list, come this way!” and a big group of folks bypassed the line and entered the club. A 20-something guy with a goatee behind me said he used to be friends with one of the Black Angels, but they lost touch. He could’ve been on the guest list and waltzed right on in. His lesson learned: Better stay friends with everyone just in case they make it big if you want to be on the guest list.

My lesson learned: If you pay for a “will call” ticket online, you better have some kind of receipt in your pocket just in case. I heard the doors were opening at 8 p.m., but usually when I go to shows, that just means they try to sell you drinks for a couple of hours before you get any tunes, so I didn’t get down there till 9-ish. By the time I got there, got parked and walked down from the parking garage Black Mountain was just starting up, but I wasn’t worried. I had a will call ticket waiting for me. I’d just go tell them and go right in.

I got in a not-very-long line, made it to the front, gave my name and… They had no record of my transaction. I had to go get in the regular ticket line, which was very long by this time. A scalper-in-waiting kept shouting, “Got any extra tickets?!” Which made me nervous. He knew and I knew it was probably gonna sell out. What if they messed up my order so badly that I didn’t get in at all? I got to the window and they ran my card, handed me a ticket and said, “Oh, you checked ‘print out pass’ instead of Will Call. No big deal.” Very convenient, since I can’t prove otherwise, but I don’t think I screwed up. I think it was their snafu. Especially since at least 4 other people I spoke to had the same experience with will call and had to go wait in line. Pissed me off, since Black Mountain was really the band I wanted to see (I reviewed them in this blog if you remember).

I got inside and heard about a minute’s worth of “Druganaut,”  plus a couple of unfamiliar songs that might’ve been off the new album, Wilderness Heart. Can’t speak for the rest of the album at this point, but what I heard was pretty much in line with the Black Mountain I already know — right in that sweet spot, where ’70s hard rock, psych and prog rock meet, nice early Sabbath vibe on some songs. One song reminded me a bit of classic Deep Purple. And then it was over. Sigh…

Got a gin and tonic in me and a pretty good contact high off the haze of marijuana smoke, then Austin’s own Black Angels took the stage. It wasn’t like the Legendary Pink Dots show, which I’ve described as a ritual of sorts. This was a rock show, put on by a young band whose star is rising. The place was packed full of adoring, very excited fans and the band picked up on that energy and returned it tenfold.

Before the show I heard a few Black Angels songs and liked them, but I didn’t really dig in and check them out, so I was basically experiencing this band for the first time. I spent a lot of time looking for influences. The main one that kept popping into my head was the 13th Floor Elevators. This was darker, more closely akin to goth, but still I felt like the band was doing things Roky Erickson would appreciate. Lots of feedback and reverb in the music. They also had a heavy beat that could be very hypnotic. On some of the songs there were actually two drummers.

Songs that stood out (tracked down by searching the web for key phrases) included: “Bloodhounds On My Trail,” “Science Killer” and “Young Men Dead” as well as the title track to the latest album, “Phosphene Dream.” Definitely a gothic angle to their music based on those song titles. I will be interested to hear the recorded version of the Black Angels after catching them live. Usually I get it the other way round.

Had another crazy guy incident, btw, although not as disruptive as the one at the Dots show. I think this guy was actually sane, but tripping out on something, bordering on freaking out. He kept jumping up and down with his arms out, screaming, like somebody in a Holy Roller church, bumping into me and others. Then he started rubbing around on some girls who would push him away, although one of them didn’t seem to mind that much. Then he stumbled into some guys who I thought were going to punch his lights out. They pushed him out of the way, which didn’t seem to phase him much. Finally, the girls whispered something in his ear. Not sure what they said, but it somehow penetrated his addled brain and he left. All in all I was impressed at how good-natured the crowd was. If you can be that annoying and not get punched, you’re surrounded by some pretty nice folks.


Filed under indie, indie rock, live show, music, one to watch, psych, review, rock, Uncategorized