CONCERT REVIEW: The Black Angels @ UT


Last night those Texan riders on the psychedelic storm known as The Black Angels rolled into town like high plains drifters and took no prisoners. They played a 19- song set drawing from their entire recorded history — from their debut EP to their the just-out and most excellent, Indigo Meadow — for a raucous, grooving capacity crowd at The Union Transfer. The band takes its name from “Black Angel’s Death Song” by The Velvet Underground, of course, and judging from their impressive multi-media stage show they are also students of Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable. There was a large screen set up behind the Angels and the crowd was bombarded by trippy visuals — crazy shapes, dots and swirls of color and snippets — projected onto the screen as well as the band. None of that would be important if the music wasn’t good, but it was. The Angels make retro psychedelic jams with a sinister undercurrent. As if scoring the visuals the band conjured a roiling sea of darkly intense music full of thumping bass, chiming guitars, swirling organ and, perhaps most notably, thunderous drumming courtesy of one Stephanie Bailey. Early highlights included a rumbling “Young Men Dead” and current single “Don’t Play With Guns.” Mercifully the group played “Yellow Elevator” which was verbally requested by an excited fan approximately 57 times before someone (ok, it was me) told the dude that it was on the set list and politely asked him to stop screaming for it after every song. The band closed their main set authoritatively with the appropriately titled “Bad Vibrations,” a slow burning classic full of sputtering guitars that built to an explosive climax of swirling lights and sound. The band wasn’t done yet, they then blasted through their best new song, “Evil Ways,” while cones of bright blue and white lights strafed the crowd. If anyone in the crowd was wondering why there was a half hour of Black Sabbath played over the P.A. before the Angels took stage, this song answered their questions. With a dark and stormy vibe that seemed nicked from the first Sabbath LP and a bass line that would make Geezer Butler jealous, it was the perfect end to their set, serving notice that this ain’t no Summer of Love. — PETE TROSHAK