The Black Angels at Electrowerkz
The Black Angels wear their influences on their sleeve. Taking their name from a Velvet Underground song, the Austin band has been mining a rich vein of psychedelic rock for nearly a decade now, their sound bringing to mind any number of late 60s acts, from fellow Austinites’s 13th Floor Elevators to The Doors. Judging by last night’s performance, the band’s gigs are in dire need of some Jim Morrison showmanship.
The noise they create is undoubtedly impressive. With guitars sending out wave after wave of distortion and vocals swamped in generous helpings of echo, the solid drumming of Stephanie Bailey pins down proceedings underneath all the fuzz. The Black Angels’s wall of sound will find no better showcase than the intimate Electrowerks.
The small crowd was treated to a set which drew heavily from this year’s Indigo Meadow. The band surged its way through singles Don’t Play with Guns and Broken Soldier, whose anti-war lyrics hark back to the group’s 60s forbearers.
However, while the sonics were impressive, managing to recreate the studio recordings to an alarmingly accurate degree, the whole show was oddly uninvolving. This is partly due to the intrinsic nature of the band’s music. The guitars may be loud but The Black Angels rarely deviate from a steady, stoned-out tempo, never quite reaching the speed required to inspire dancing en masse. Now this isn’t the fault of the band of course (this is the music they make) but it’s a problem which could be tempered by some audience interaction. A crowd which seems unsure of how to react can be led by some encouragement from the stage. Barely a word was spoken by the band the entire night.
A glaring misstep capped off the night’s events. The encore, customarily reserved for a group’s most anthemic numbers, was begun by lead singer, Alex Maas, taking the stage by himself. He sang Ronettes, a bonus track from third album Phosphene Dream, with only his synthesiser to keep him company. The rest of the band then returned to close the set, but any remaining energy in the venue had dissipated. It was symptomatic of a night when The Black Angels seemed almost unaware of the audience in front of them. This detached stage presence, coupled with the all-too-faithful renditions of studio recordings equalled a very frustrating live experience.
Photos: Marika Parizzi
For further information and future events visit the Black Angels’ website here.
Watch the video for Don’t Play with Guns here: