Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Live Review: The Black Angels/Dead Meadow/Spindrift @ Ottobar, 11/1/2011

Even before it happened, I knew this show would end up being one of my absolute favorites of the entire year. I mean, let's think about this for a minute here. The Black Angels. Dead Meadow. AND Spindrift. On the same bill. For we fans of mind-bending, brain-crushing, good old fashioned psych'n'roll, it doesn't get much better, y'all. And so it was that on All Saint's Day, saints and sinners alike flocked to the Ottobar up Baltimore way for one hell of a night.

To begin with, y'all, there really is nothing quite like walking into a room and having the spooky, kooky, psycho Spaghetti Western-leaning strains of Californians Spindrift welcome you. Singer/axe-tamer Kirpatrick Thomas once again led a highly successful charge through the spacedust-covered annals of Spindriftian lore, full of drifters and desert freakouts and obscure 60s vibes woven through again and again with some witchy, wily hoodoo. Though it had been almost a year since my first live Spindrift experience, I was reminded straight away of the simple, self-evident truth that Spindrift is, without a doubt, one of the most interesting, most beautifully eccentric bands out there making music in the modern era. Strange fruits come out of their labors, and o how I love them for it. They tickled me cotton candy dogwood pink with the inclusion of "Indian Run" in the set, and as those wacky native American rhythms and psuedo-Morricone strains went on and on I heard a thousand sweet hallelujahs. Glory be to Spindrift, and to all their unbridled sonic peculiarities.

After the Ottobar caught its breath, it was time for the heavier than heavy psych soul of Dead Meadow. Whereas Spindrift takes me there with their quixotic quirkiness, Dead Meadow seeps under my skin with every note of those hefty, mammoth songs of theirs, all dreamland dark and spun with soul. They are as loud as the day is long, Dead Meadow, and full of all things noisy and wonderful. As the club filled with people, so too did it fill with the sound of the shadows, thick puffs of smoke, and deepest, blackest night laid on thicker than pure molasses, sticky sweet and potent as all get out. Dead Meadow and their relentless crush pulls together the 60s, the 70s, and the 90s into something pulsating with tonight, right now. At times, the blues crept in, in certain rhythms, certain notes, certain vibrations. The entire set was awesome, pounding my senses into a submissive daze.

And then, then it was time for The Black Angels. This, as you know, is a band that really sets me aflame from head to toe, and it's a foregone conclusion whenever I see them that they shall be all manner of spectacular. With those dang ocularly-disorienting red and blue waves behind them, the Austinian alchemists began. From pillar to post, they were as anticipated. A fiery, feisty "Haunting at 1300 McKinley," with that smoothly gruff vocal by Alex Maas was followed by a scintillating, sultry rendition of "The Sniper," bass tuned to ferocious. When Maas delivered the line, "Take me to that fire," during "Better Off Alone," I couldn't help but think that he is actually well aware of exactly where the fire in question burns. "Telephone" was triumphant, an exalting jingle jangle with a touch of the creeps stirred into the clamor. The ending of "Bad Vibrations" was nothing short of liquefying, with all that unexpected ferocity of the song's final minute reverberating through my bones. Yet again, my one and only bone of contention with the set was the omission of the end of "Yellow Elevator #2," some of my favorite ear ecstasy of the past few years. Maybe someday they'll play that song all the way through. An encore filled with the incredible "Bloodhounds On My Trail," a hot shit brilliant version of "The Sniper At The Gates Of Heaven," not to mention a verily dynamite drone-laden attack of "Surf City (Revisited)," left me in the throes of serious delight.

If you're expecting to see this show on my Best Of '11 stuffery, friends, you've got the right idea. I was expecting to be shown a good time, and I was not only entertained but taken to the other side more times than I can count. Mercy, mercy me.

mp3: Indian Run (Spindrift from The Legend of God's Gun)

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