Sunday evening “The Black Angels” take the stage with their interpretation on psychedelic rock. Yes you read that right, 40 years later, all that was old is new again.
The Austin-based Black Angels take their name from a Velvet Underground song (“The Black Angel’s Death Song”). Their bass drum is adorned with the band’s logo, which depicts Nico of the Velvet Underground. Clearly, this is a band fascinated by the 1960’s; and indeed, their music has as much to do with the droning psychedelia of Iron Butterfly, the Byrds, and the Grateful Dead as it does with Nico and company.
When I say “droning,” I do, of course, mean droning—this is a band that refers to their organist as a “drone machine” in the liner notes of their first album. A quick listen to their sophomore effort, Directions to See a Ghost, reveals a band that has no trouble conjuring up images of endless drug trips—all backed by steady B3 chords.
To say that they’re stuck in the sixties, though, would be to sell them short. As Joshua Ragusa of Under the Radar magazine points out, “the band face up to an examine today’s political climate on their own terms, pulling larger sociopolitical question into an abstract musical realm.” In other words, they’re socially conscious, but they’re introspective as well—they know they’re operating in a post-punk world. Indeed, the lyrics and song arrangements on their latest album occasionally tip their hat to nineties alt-industrial paranoia as much as anything.
When the group takes the stage at Cain’s Ballroom with similarly-minded groups The Strange Boys and Rainbows are Free, it should be an evening of droning, more droning and—yes—performance art. Blogger Mairead Case reports that band often performs “awash in old film clips…Black Angels projectionist Richard Whymark splices zombie flicks and talking heads.”
Zombie flicks and psychedelic rock. What more could anyone possibly want?
About the author:
A graduate of the University of Nebraska, Luke Harrington currently resides in Tulsa and works in the aerospace industry–but, at any given moment, would probably rather be reviewing movies and music. In his spare time, he’s off playing blues piano, pretending to be Assistant Editor for MovieZeal.com, or reviewing the many musical events in Northeastern Oklahoma for Tulsa Today.