Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Black Mountain @ Commodore -- 11/30/10

Black Mountain came home as the interestingly named "Dropout Boogie Tour" descended upon Vancouver for its first of two shows last night.

The Black Angels opened the night, who had a very much psychedelic rock sound and were a good choice for touring with Black Mountain. Though while they were a good band, musically, there wasn't very much by way of a live show. All their songs kind of blended together, and by the end of it, I found myself spacing out a little. Maybe it was just that I was over tired, but I was in a bit of a trance-like state by the end of their hour long set. They also didn't have very much by way of banter or stage presence, so that didn't help. It seemed like they were there, they played, they left. They were by no means bad, were quite talented musicians, just not very... exciting to watch live.

After that, I feared that maybe I was too tired for the late start -- it was past 11 when Black Mountain took the stage -- but after the taped chanting intro as the band took the stage, the opening burst of "Wilderness Hearts" let me know I would be enrapt the entire show. From there they just exploded with "Let Spirits Ride", and didn't look back. Every song was as grandiose as the last, as the perfect blend of Stephen McBean and Amber Webber's voices and McBean's insane guitar work filled both the explosive highs and intense lows of their songs with energy. The set balanced almost perfectly; "Tyrants" was a drawn out epic, "Sadie" brought the set down for a brief calm moment, before the one-two punch of "Druganaut" and "Stormy High" brought things to a chaotic crescendo.
There wasn't much by way of banter; the notoriously shy McBean didn't say much, just a couple thank you's, leaving most of the chatter to Weber and drummer Joshua Wells. But where they connected was the music, and their stage presence.
After the main set ended with "Don't Run Our Hearts Around" they came back out for the encore to play a pair; the fantastic "The Hair Song" and "No Hits", which saw The Black Angels join them on stage. There were, though, two disappointing omissions: no "Evil Ways" or "Bright Lights". Granted, the latter is a 16 minute epic, but it was still a little disappointing to not see.
Despite that, the band proved they have not lost their edge, rather sharpened and honed it to become one of the best Vancouver has to offer.

setlist:
Wilderness Hearts, Let Spirits Ride, Wucan, Tyrants, Buried By The Blues, Sadie, Angels, Druganaut, Stormy High, Old Fangs, Roller Coaster, Don't Run Our Hearts Around.
[encore] The Hair Song, No Hits.

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