Live Review: The Black Angels at Bowery Ballroom
Austin Texas rockers brought a hypnotic psychedelic riot to a sold-out house in NYC.
The last time I heard the Black Angels play was at a small basement club in Cambridge—I couldn’t hear for seven days afterward, and I had put ear plugs in after three songs. Bowery Ballroom is a bit bigger than The Middle East but last night the Angels still played at the same volume with a towering intensity that was channeled more through sonic vibrations than stage presence.
The Angels opened with “You On The Run,” a head bobbing shoegazy track filled with Velvet Underground-esque drone replete with tambourines and fuzzy guitars. The tempo picked up a bit when the band jumped into “Bloodhounds On My Trail” off their first LP “Passover.”
Front man Alex Mass has a piercing voice that cuts like a ripsaw right through the cacophony of the reverb drenched sounds. “Bad Vibrations” was first track played off the Angels most recent release “Phosphene Dream.” The track melted into the first two with the same hypnotic throwback sound until the final minute where the Angels released a sonic boom with and heavy change in tempo creating upbeat fury.
The Angels pulled songs equally from all three albums, slightly favoring their first, “Passover.” Where the first two albums, “Passover” and “Directions To See A Ghost,” follow a balancing act of shoegaze physcadellia, “Phosphene Dream” attempts to branch out from the genre with groovier tracks like “Telephone.” Played live, the new tracks definitely mark a distinction from the older material and possibly a shift in the direction of the type of music The Angels want to create.
The band hit a stride with the last three tracks before the closer: “Young Men Dead,” “The First Vietnamese War,” and “Better Off Alone”—all from their first album. Black Mountain’s Stephen McBean played acoustic on the last song of the set appropriately dubbed “Entrance Song”—A melodic trip with purposely-wobbly vocals and heart-thumping drumbeat.
The show sent vibrations surging through my bones and today my ears are still ringing—but this time I want more.