As a fun little music journalism experiment, let’s see if this show review for the performances of The Black Angels and Night Beats at Town Ballroom this past Saturday night can possibly discuss the happenings of the aforementioned performance without once using the word “psychedelic,” (barring, of course, this expository example). Okay. Here goes nothing.
Though for promoters, it can sometimes be a difficult task to rip people away from their summer haze of cheap beer and backyard parties, it was perhaps because of this haze that music fans turned out in impressive numbers to Town Ballroom Saturday night. It goes without saying that the landmark music venue, with its unique triple-tiered design (giving the impression that one is not watching just the show, but also watching the audience watch the show), is one of the few air-conditioned venues in the city. The crowd, escaping the oppressive heat that had been set upon Buffalo like so many laundromats venting all at once, was at near capacity for the headlining Black Angels, but was still relatively modest when opening act Night Beats took the stage. And that’s unfortunate because if there’s one real story to take away from the evening, it’s of Night Beats’ dynamic set.
Seattle’s Night Beats are a relatively young band, with only one full length LP to their name (though also a handful of excellent 7’’s), but it was that youthful exuberance that made them stand out Saturday night. The band kicked off the set with their garage floor stomper “Puppet on a String,” complete with backing “ah-ah”s from bassist Tarek Wegner (calling to mind the music of former tour mates The Black Lips). Throughout the set, lead singer and guitarist Lee Blackwell tap-danced with his guitar pedals, unleashing thunderous flourishes between his jangly blues inspired riffs. Rounding out the group is drummer James Traeger, whose propulsive drumming complemented the group perfectly, incorporating aspects of jazz and flamenco.
The parade of pot-scented tank tops marked the beginning of The Black Angels’ fans slow trickle into the venue. Their fanbase is an odd mix of new wave hippies, frat guys, and corporate suits that can afford the rather steep $22 ticket. This melting pot of admirers reflects the kind of bland, muddy, mid-tempo brand of music that The Black Angels have basically trademarked at this point. Just this past week The Jesus and Mary Chain, a band approaching 30, were able to deliver a set that was sloppy, confrontational, and above all else, loud. Loud as hell. It was thrilling. The Black Angels, on the other hand, inspired little more than a shrug with their particular brand of polite psychedlia.
Total “psychedelic”s: 1
Photos by Jill Greenberg