I always wonder about, when I’m older, what bands I’ll look back on and know that I was there for the full trajectory of their career, to go from oblivion to importance. I’m pretty sure The Black Angels are one of those bands.
I’ve spent the majority of my life living in the two hubs for psychedelic music: Austin, TX and San Francisco, CA. The Black Angels are from Austin, and they have become almost curators of the psychedelic scene. The put on the annual Austin Psych Fest that draws bands and fans of the genre from all over the world.
Pomona is a sleepy little town sitting an hour East of LA. The facades of the buildings feel as if they’ve barely been touched since the ’60s and ’70s, which provides a righteous environment for seeing such a show as The Black Angels.
Hanni El Khatib and Wall of Death opened the show, warming our ears with their span of wistful and hard-driving reverberation. When The Black Angels play, it’s easy to forget when and where you are. The Glass House began to vibrate with all of the sounds that guitarist Christian Bland emanates, drummer Stephanie Bailey begins her primordial, hypnotic beats, and singer Alex Maas’s words sail through the gap between the two as it all comes together for “Vikings”. Some of the Angels songs are downers, some are uppers, like “I Hear Colors (Chromaesthesia)”. I dance and sway and sing along, as the thought grips me that I am neither here nor there. Within these songs lie memories of the different places I have lived, the different times I have experienced. They are the key which unlocks them, and makes me feel connected.
“Don’t Play With Guns” is almost humorous coming from a band from Texas. “Entrance Song” speaks of highways I learned to drive on. “Evil Things” is my favorite song off their newly released Indigo Meadow. The psychedelic visuals which danced across the backdrop of the stage complimented every song, whether it be patterns or images. It was, at times, like being inside a kaleidoscope.
When the opening riff for “Black Grease” plays, I am taken back to my first time seeing them, right after graduating college. That is such a weird time in life, and this song will always remind me of that era. “Holland” smooths over the grittiness of the songs before it, the organ taking prominence. “Bad Vibrations” is like falling faster and faster through a sound spiral.
After a stripped down, solo vocal segment from Maas, the encore began, vibrating the walls of the Glass House for it’s final moments as the clock neared midnight. Then it was back to reality.