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The Black Angels and Night Beats – Captain’s Rest, Glasgow

Vespertine wonders if some music needs time and space. Specific times and spaces, that is.

Psychedelic music – is it a shared experience?

As I get older I find that live music is becoming less and less crucial to my overall enjoyment of music. Most bands in fact simply stand stock still and play their album. This effect can be recreated in your house for less money and you can programme out the songs you don’t want to hear!     I find this especially true of psych/drone bands. Having caught a few of late I am drawn to the fact that the droning repetition must clearly require headphones, enough time to get ‘lost in music’ or some drugs.    

Night Beats were a band beset by problems….a farcical mix-up at the door ensured that they had to go on late, had their set truncated and a sound mix which veered between a mess and a muddy, dense, mess. The Seattle band was great fun though, stealing as they did from all the psych/punk references: a bit of Sky Saxon, some 13th Floor Elevators, some acid guitar licks and a stomping Bo Diddley beat. Worth checking out…..especially over-wrought bassist Tarerk Wegner who seemed disgusted with the mix and ended the set by trashing his bass, pouring his drink down the monitor and telling the sound desk to “F*** off”. Rock and roll.

The Black Angels had no such sound problems and were also aided by a good light show, dry ice…the works. And for a time it did work. Starting with ‘Bad Vibrations’ the first half of the set mixed lengthy drone workouts with shorter, catchier songs like ‘Telephone’, and the audience seemed very much in the mood to be involved. I detected elements of lots of great bands: Butthole Surfers, Jesus & Mary Chain, 13th Floor Elevators, Velvet Underground…with some quicksilver (messenger service) guitar licks over the pounding rhythm.

But something went wrong for me…..the second part of the set focused on the drone workouts; too many, too close together, and too loud (with speakers almost distorting). The ‘tunes’ dried up to an extent. My friend who is a huge fan of the band admitted it wasn’t the set he’d have picked. It ended with a sigh and a not a roar.   This is the problem….10 minute drone rock workouts are simply not an experience which gains much from midweek live exposure unless you’re prepared to add to the experience in the live setting. Or is it me? Is being older, sober and perhaps a tad jaded the problem? Might I have ‘tuned in’ had it been the weekend, or I’d been loaded?

I think wherever your head space is there is an art to pacing a set and offering something different to the record and I can’t see how TBA achieved that; as a relative newcomer to them I left finding it had been too long, too repetitive and ultimately leading to a deflation of the atmosphere rather than a build of tension.  I’d check out the albums before venturing into the live arena with Austin’s finest drone/psych experience.

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