Live Review: Black Mountain & The Black Angels @ Showbox at the Market 11/29

photos by Alex Crick

I’m one of those damn kids who complains that they were “born in the wrong era.” I get chills when I read Lester Bangs reviews, tear up when I watch Joe Cocker kill it at Woodstock doing “With a Little Help With My Friends” and find comfort in the crackle and pops of a vinyl record spinning ‘round. I’ve come to terms with the fact I can’t travel back in time, tune in and drop out, so I make it point to see bands that can bring the past to the present. The Dropout Boogie Tour, a joint venture of Black Mountain and The Black Angels couldn’t have provided a better catalyst to the tripped out, distorted jams of the 60s & 70s.

Black Mountain opened the bill, blasting through a generous set of thick bass lines and roaring guitars. Fronted by the children of flower children, Stephen McBean and Amber Webber shared beautifully haunting lead vocals, all the while looking like gorgeous members of the Manson Family. The hard, dark sounds of Black Mountain’s live presence channeled Danzig, Sabbath, and Alice Cooper with a forceful punch, pierced with slicing riffs and drawn-out jams. Their music was an experience, not a time killer like the trillions of openers I’ve squirmed through over the years. To me, it was a joint affair, not a matter of an opener and a closer.


The Black Angels, who promised Seattle was their second home, tore the roof off and let their razorblade leads and wailing organ-synth rain down. Leader and mad man Alex Maas barked at the cloud-masked moon with a ferociousness that sunk into your skin and made your lungs a little breathless. The aural experience the Black Angels emit is a visceral one. Almost sexual. The build-ups, the tom drum thuds, the carnal shouts, and subtle tambourine shakes. Their music slinked throughout the crowd like an iridescent snake wrapping itself around each and every one in the crowd, rattling it’s tail and hissing a slew of bittersweet, psychedelic nothings.

Though the visual aspects of the show were disappointing in comparison to their last mind-bending Neumos set, the Showbox provided a bigger arena for a band who’s larger than life sound is like an acid-fueled Spartan army wielding giant drums and glistening guitars. Maybe the calendar didn’t slip back 40-years, but for those few hours I danced in the dark through flashing lights, sweaty bodies and skunky air like my draft card might be in the mailbox tomorrow.

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