Tag Archives: South by San Jose

Sunday Morning Coming Down: Review–Black Angels at South by San Jose (Unofficial SXSW)

27 Mar

By Tommy Garcia

Tommy Garcia, the drummer for Fishboy and an all-around bad-ass with impeccable taste in music and a knack for finding the best free shows that SXSW has to offer, wrote a review of the Black Angels’ set at South By San Jose. It’s a surefire distraction from that nasty hangover!

Waves of reverb-drenched sound emanated from the stage as the Black Angels played a free show to a captivated audience on March 19th at the annual South by San Jose bash, an unofficial SXSW event.

The band kicked off their set with “Bad Vibrations”, the opener from their latest record, Phosphene Dream (Light in the Attic), which was released late last year. Lead guitarist Christian Bland used his dynamic tremolo drone to lead the band into a psychedelic abyss. In true ironic form, “Bad Vibrations” was preceded by the last song of the Angels’ pre-show music–the Beach Boys’ landmark psychedelic opus, “Good Vibrations.”

The set was a mix of songs from the band’s three full-length releases, with more focus on the material from their newest record. A particular highlight of the set was a take on the band’s “Sniper at the Gates of Heaven”, in which the band locked in tight around a dark and heavily distorted groove.

Lead singer Alex Mass picked up a Hofner bass guitar and put down his signature maracas and tambourine for several songs, adding a heavy bottom end to the Angels’ already propulsive rhythm section. Drummer Stephanie Bailey pounded hypnotically on her floor tom and ride cymbal while spacey guitar and swirling bits of organ were added to the mix to bolster the garage rock swagger.

Melding a high potency mix of the Velvet Underground , Jesus and Mary Chain and Austin’s own legendary psychedelic pioneers, the 13th Floor Elevators, and with a flair for the sounds of more modern psychedelic groups such as The Warlocks, The Brian Jonestown Massacre and Spiritualized, the Black Angels have consistently raised the bar with each successive release and tour.

The Black Angels’ set at this year’s SXSW performance showed the band exerting an assured confidence and passionate take on their dark, uniquely psychedelic sound.