Head Trip In Every Key

The Black Angels, with The Warlocks
Exit In, Nashville, TN
Saturday, July 5, 2008

You know how sometimes you can look forward to a concert so much that it's almost impossible for the actual event to live up to your expectations? Well, that totally wasn't an issue on Saturday night. I'm not sure I had looked forward to a concert this much since in years. Directions To See A Ghost, The Black Angels new album, has undoubtedly been my favorite of the year so far. It's been in constant rotation since April, when I first wrote about it, and my love for it has yet to show any signs of waning. And live, the band were everything I'd hoped they would be, and then some. Their set was 75 minutes of mind blowing aural magic. I've always wondered why more bands don't incorporate projections into their light shows. The combination of old 50s film reels and psychedelic oil projections added a perfect visual element to the band's tripped out sound. During songs like "Mission District," with it's heartbeat rhythm, I honestly can't imagine it would have been any cooler seeing Pink Floyd in 1967. Seriously. It was that good.

The Black Angels - "Doves" (mp3) from Directions To See A Ghost
The Black Angels - "Paladin's Last Stand" (mp3) from Black Angel Exit (promo only)

The Warlocks were an example that sometimes you can put two chefs in the same kitchen with the exact same ingredients and wind up with completely different tasting dishes. The first time I saw them (two years ago in Atlanta), they didn't do much for me. It probably didn't help that the smoke was so thick that you couldn't actually see the band members on stage, only their shadowy outlines. This time the smoke machine was under control, but I still couldn't connect with the band. Though they share a brooding, drony sound with The Black Angels, they do a lot less with it. It seems like every song followed the same template... guitarist starts an echoey riff, the other two guitarists chime in playing the same riff, drums and bass come in, then repeat every four minutes. It got boring real quick. If you're going to have three guitarists in a band, you need to do something with them. Having them all playing the same part all night is a waste.

The Warlocks - "So Paranoid" (mp3) from Heavy Deavy Skull Lover

photo by Steve Cross, more at Nashville Cream


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