It never fails! Since 2006 every time I have attended a show by The Black Angels I’ve arrived late. The streak continues for last Wednesday’s November 24th sold out show at the El Rey Theatre where I showed up half-way into the song, “You On the Run” which may or may not have been the first song in their set. Performing in front of a Phosphene Dream cover art backdrop (designed by multi-talented guitarist Christian Bland) this psychedelic rock band sounded, looked and felt like a wet dream. Yeah, girls have those too. I can’t recall the exact number of their shows that I’ve been to, as it has been many, but I do remember that I’ve enjoyed every single one recalling that they always have a tight set, never disappoint and I can feel every song. This set was no different. However, the audience was unusual in a personal way. This was my first time experiencing the band in a sold-out larger venue with an eclectic audience who’s presence spoke “this band was just on David Letterman” and the mixed audiences of the world are now showing up on your doorstep. This of course is a good thing. A really great thing! Just an observation of how this audience was different than what I’ve normally seen at their shows. Those that were not informed before, are now aware of the existence of The Black Angels.
The majority of the set list consisted of songs off their latest album, like new song “The Haunting of 1300 McKinley” which recounts the band’s haunted East Austin home. Being from Austin and all, I had never seen a ghost in that old enormous house, but the stories were enough to send chills and give me goose bumps anytime I visited. Sprinkled in the set were also songs off Passover and Directions to See a Ghost including the song “Black Grease” (Passover) which I like to pretend is my stripper song, if I was a stripper of course. Just something about it makes me want to take my clothes off. I was happy they performed one of my favorite songs off Directions to See a Ghost titled “Science Killer.” This song’s performance was crafted with little burst of energy from singer Alex Maas resonating screaming echoes that sounds shrilling and so damn cool at the same time. Also notable to say that I freakin’ love the maracas in this song. Give it a listen and you will too…promise.
There were a lot of vintage instruments, gear, pedals and microphones, decorating the stage that created a sound and environment for psychedelic revival mixed with the dirty blues and twang of the South (i.e. Austin). The multi-instrumentally talented band traded guitars, bass and drum parts on stage as though they were passing around sacred instruments in a ceremonial ritual. It’s beautiful and keeps the show interesting to watch. Female drummer Stephanie Bailey truly shines in every song but drew the audiences attention on “Mission District” with a lone spotlight focused on her that made everyone wish they were as badass as she. Or at least that’s what the vibe felt like to me. The performance of this song over powered me and I realized that I was holding my breath, not sure why. The show experience was hypnotic, pleasurable, stimulating and even after they played a long set, you still didn’t want the experience to end. I left feeling once again completely mesmerized by these talented, nice and beautiful people. The Black Angels … music you can feel.
The Black Angels performed with Black Mountain this evening. To check out the photos of Black Mountain, click here.
Show experience by: Roxanne Hilburn
Photos: Dominoe Farris- Gilbert