Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Black Angels - Roky Erickson + the Hounds of Baskerville - Golden Animals -- Feb 14 2014

Golden Animals - This Brooklyn trio lines up with drums keyboards and guitar and none too surprisingly establishes a warm psychedelic mood in their 31 minute set. They are a perfect entry point for tonight's show as they even display some of that Texas psyche style that shows the southwestern blues roots in several of the songs. It is not overly spacey or heavy, but loaded with atmosphere and traces of Jason Spaceman. As long as they did not drift into too much of a lounge blues sound (not too often here), they came across well.

Roky Erickson and the Hounds of Baskerville - The legend returns. And before I even start the review, I should point out it is an uneven playing field when I review Roky, as his history is so bizarre and difficult that it is a pleasure just to see him alive and functioning. If you have not seen the documentary film "You're Gonna Miss Me", I can not recommend it too strongly as it is quite compelling even if you know nothing of Roky and his music. But of course, you need to know of the 13th Floor Elevators (and his interesting latter band, the Aliens) as they made some of the best psychedelic music ever. The Hounds of Baskerville knew it all and what really amazed me is how they had Roky playing all the excellent songs from the first two Elevators albums. In the past, the sets were pretty much Aliens material and the song "You're Gonna Miss Me". There was still some excellent Aliens songs, but to hear "The Kingdom of Heaven" and the amazing eight minute "Slip Inside this House" was a blast along with a ton of material from the first two Elevators albums. Yes, Roky blows plenty of lines, but mostly through not singing them, as he figures out his cues well enough when he finds the spot in the song. He plays guitar intermittently but it is turned on and low in the mix. His vocals are high in the mix so there is no hiding there. And he started a little hoarse, but amazingly could find some of his range at some chilling moments of these great songs. The lead guitarist had all the Stacey Sutherland moves and locked in with Roky (such as you can) to keep the set going for a full 49 minutes yet. This was much better than I expected, and although he may not be able to keep this up for much longer, we are lucky to experience it while we can.
The Black Angels - This Austin band returns for the xth time (I've lost count) to DC to sell out the Black Cat yet again. And they brought Roky who they would be the first to admit was a huge influence on the psychedelic sounds of the Black Angels. Of course the Black Angels have been around long enough to implant their style firmly into the music scene, which always needs bands with this style that have their sound down so very well. There are lots of instrument shifts between members, but strong somewhat distant reverb heavy vocals, powerfully steady drums, synthesizers, echo drenched guitars, and a bass are all around to cook up this magical stew. They also add an excellent set of projections and lights that keep things very psychedelic for the eyes as well as the ears. There really is not that much more to say other than these songs are great and are played loud, yet with plenty of subtlety that the sound man manages to coax out of the PA. They are completely locked in throughout the 90+ minutes tonight and aside from a somewhat overly indulgent encore at 1:10am with a few slices of the crowd gone, they were near perfect.

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