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The Black Angels Live at the Commodore Ballroom

Tuesday 24th, October 2017 / 16:22
By Jeevin Johal

Photo by Darrole Palmer

Commodore Ballroom
October 22nd, 2017

VANCOUVER – In Austin, TX, the modern day Mecca of North American Psyche Rock, the Black Angels have forged their status as titans among the onslaught of bands that have come out of the American south in the past couple decades. On Sunday evening, they returned to Vancouver for the first time since the unfortunate death of Levitation Fest, snake-charming their still grieving fans out of their beanbag chairs in their parent’s dimly lit basements for a night of hypnotic and slimy rock tunes.

Upon blasting into “Currency,” the opening track from their latest album, Death Song, a flurry of playing cards with the design of the American one-dollar bill cascaded the room as one excited audience member rocketed packs of “Washingtons” into the sky. A kaleidoscope of colourful shapes, patterns and blobs projected atop the band, putting any early 2000’s computer visualizer to shame, and morphing the Commodore Ballroom into a living, breathing lava lamp.

Either the members of the Black Angels are telepathically linked, or they’ve doused themselves with some sort of exclusive drug concocted just for them, because they hardly ever acknowledge one another on stage. Yet they remain completely, rhythmically in sync, sounding tight as hell and only looking up at each other to swap one of many Beatles inspired instruments, likely stolen from Paul McCartney’s tour bus. Drummer, Stephanie Bailey, provides the heavy pulse that keeps the Black Angels organism alive and pumping with a bass drum so thick, it could be confused for your own heartbeat during that moment you become aware of its rhythmic pattern at the peak of a hallucinogen fuelled trip.

Like a hot knife though a stick of butter, the flow of the setlist was smooth and creamy. There were no lulls between songs, and tracks transitioned flawlessly. The Black Angels concluded the night with “Young Men Dead,” from their debut album Passover, leaving fans with the effects of delay pedals still reverberating through their heads before sending them off to float into the night.

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