Black Mountain and the Black Angels – Mercy Lounge – October 12th, 2010

You can’t get much more black than the Dropout Boogie. Two of the coolest bands with the word “black” touring together sounds like a match made in heaven for any fans of good music. Austin band the Black Angels has been getting more and more attention this year (they were just named Rolling Stone’s Band of the Week and their song “Young Men Dead” was in some gay video game commercial), while Black Mountain is still striving on with great tunes and good shows. Last night’s show was no exception and probably the best $15 I spent on a show.

Black Mountain kicked off the night starting at 9 pm. There were no other openers which is good cause at 9 pm, I don’t feel like listening to someone I didn’t pay money to see. They opened with the title track off their new album “Wilderness Heart.” Guitarist/vocalist Stephen McBean’s riffs produced many head nods from the crowd while vocalist Amber Webber kept us transfixed. They followed this with my favorite song by them, “Angels.” I was worried how this song would translate live, because in my head, I never saw them nailing it as well as they could have. However, they pissed on my expectations and gave the song the proper treatment it  deserves.

While the first half of the set wasn’t bad, it was the second half of it that won me over. “Radiant Hearts” started off slow but got really good towards the end. McBean and Webber dueting together on the track was perfect and it was probably the best acoustic track played that night. After this peaceful moment, they broke it in half and launched into their best songs of the night. Songs like “Let Spirits Ride” and “Roller Coaster” reminded us what made us love the band. You could feel the bass in your gut for the latter and this helped solidify that it is probably the best track on the new album. More energy followed with tracks like “Old Fangs” in which McBean croans “Is it safe for the cowards to do what they’ve already done?” and my personal favorite “Stormy High.” When the opening riff for that song became audible, every Black Mountain fan in the audience lost their shit. That song is awesome on record, but even better live. The riff is heavier, the buildup more intense and Webber’s vocals, while not as strong as on the record, still ring strong and compliment McBean’s vocals well as well. They closed with a song off their debut album, which was awesome as well, but they didn’t need to win me over anymore. While the band lacks stage presence, they won me over with what’s really important: the music.

After a 30 minute wait, the Black Angels were up next. They opened with “You on the Run”, which honestly wasn’t as heavy live as I expected it to be. That whole album (Directions to See A Ghost) is probably the weakest they’ve done, but I always thought that “You on the Run” and “You in Color” were standout tracks. After this, the band launched into a mixture of old and new songs. And they change it up. Literally. Everyone in the band can play a different instrument. The only person who didn’t change instruments the entire set was drummer Stephanie Bailey. But then again, she pounds the shit out of those drums so why replace a good thing?

A standout from last night would definitely have to be “Bad Vibrations” off their new album. The kick towards the end (the people who have heard it know what I’m talking about) is even better live. More intensity is added. Other standouts would have to be “The Sniper at the Gates of Heaven” and “The First Vietnamese War.” They powered through those and “Black Grease”, which makes me think that their debut really was their best.

The new album is not without it’s standouts as well. They ripped through “Entrance Song” and the 60’s throwback single “Telephone”, in which they even launched into an extended version, which was awesome.  They didn’t play “Sunday Morning”, my favorite off the new album, but then again, from what I’ve heard, I don’t think they’ve played it this entire tour, which is a damn shame. “The Sniper” was played though and the guitar on that track is hypnotic.

They closed with probably their most famous song, “Young Men Dead.” These guys may have been born after the 60’s but I can easily see them fitting in quite well with that era. The songs of Vietnam (with hints of the Iraq War thrown in there), the psychedelic sound and all just make sense with the 60’s. I could easily have seen this band opening for the Doors or even CCR. All the elements are there, they were just born at the wrong time.

So basically, if you get a chance to see either of these bands, I’d say chip in the $15 and go for it. Both bands are full of extremely talented people and put on a great show. Don’t be a twat, check em out!

Stormy High 

Roller Coaster 

Angels 

Young Men Dead 

Telephone 

Black Grease 

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