Last Night: The Black Angels At Fitzgerald's

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Photos By Marc Brubaker
Rocks Off hopes that this observation is wrong, but we don't think that people give the Black Angels enough due credit as a Texas band, even though everything about them encapsulates the 50 years of Texas rock. The spookiness of everything Roky Erickson touched, the swing of Doug Sahm, the bitter bite of the best Townes Van Zandt drug ballad, it's all inside the Angels.

This was our fourth Angels show in about a year, as we have followed along the promotional track of 2010's Phosphene Dream. Does that qualify us as overqualified to have covered this show last night? Possibly.

Back to the Texas angle. To us, the Angels are Texas rock, even if some of us don't see Austin as Texas anymore, but some outgrowth of Pick Any Large Liberal City Where Your Lawyer Can Have Visible Tattoos. The Angels are a hot Texas night, bad decisions, border violence, the wrong pills, bored looking girls, and questing all rolled up into a band. Everything that's not advertised by the tourism board.

Openers Spindrift were a treat for the folks who showed up early, mixing in some Chet Atkins twang into their stoner bluster. Direct openers Dead Meadow were met with a wall of pot smoke when they came on around 9:40. Longtime Meadow fans were freaked out by the band's sudden clean-cut appearance too. We just sat enthralled that three people can sound like that.

The Angels set was heavy on the Phosphene stuff, but managed to cover the band's catalog succinctly. Opening cuts "Haunting At 1300 McKinley" and "The Sniper" started things with a howl, with their Doors stomp and slither. The band's backing imagery didn't get going until "Telephone," with blood flying behind the band in time with the music.

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"Black Grease," off the band's breakthrough Passover got the first yelps of the evening. Passover still manages to convert people to the Angels side five years since it entered the world. There is something about the songs on Passover that you can't wash off yourself after repeated dosings.

A double shot of "Young Men Dead" and "You On The Run" brought the evening to a boil, with lead singer Alex Maas now soaked in sweat and drummer Stephanie Bailey proving why she is sorely underrated. She plays like a metal drummer, and no one sees it.

The encore brought "Melanie's Melody" from this year's Phosgene Nightmare EP -- a collection of extras from the Phosphene sessions -- plus "The Prodigal Sun" from Passover, and the title track to Phosphene.

Personal Bias: A Lot good, bad, and ugly things have happened to Rocks Off surrounding Black Angels show. Each time around is a nostalgic trip for better or hilarious.

The Crowd: We've seen Fitz upstairs packed, and last night it was very packed. Lord Lemmy help us next week for that Mastodon show.

Overheard in the Crowd: Beer bottles being thrown into trash cans, random howling along with guitarist Christian Bland.

Random Notebook Dump: How can such a scary, haunting band make me smile so much? That shit (sigh) cray.


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3 comments
Charles Lentz
Charles Lentz

Fantastic show all around.  I've seen Dead Meadow twice now and I still think they would be better with a solo singer, but that's just me.  Spindrift was fantastic!  Black Angels were the pants as usual.

Guest
Guest

How long did they play?

Championshipvinyl73
Championshipvinyl73

Still punching myself in the junk for not being able to make it out. Thanks for the excellent write up Craig.

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