The Black Angels gets trippy in Nashville

It was another beautiful fall night in Nashville as I headed downtown to the best venue in the music city, the Brooklyn Bowl. The anticipation I felt going into this evening was at an all-time high as two of my favorite bands would be performing, The Vacant Lots and The Black Angels.

The Vacant Lots can be found on almost all of my post punk playlists and I haven’t been able to stop spinning their latest album, Closure. Even though they were the only other band on the bill, they sadly were limited to a short playlist — typical of most openers. I counted seven songs, but I was dancing so erratically, it could have been more. As a massive fan of this band, I kind of felt in my own little mental headspace and I tried to absorb as much music as they were allowed to play. It seemed as though most people in the audience had no idea who they were, but by the time they finished their closer “Mad Mary Jones”, almost everyone around me was dancing as much as I was. The duo of Jared Artaud (vocals, guitars) and Brian MacFadyen (programming, percussion, vocals) have the ability to create a soundscape that seems much more explosive and bombastic for it only being two guys onstage. I would love to see this band as a headliner, because I truly was not ready to see them wrap things up. 

The Black Angels are known for creating the Austin, Texas psychedelic rock scene.

I remember moving to Texas many years ago and I couldn’t stop hearing about them from almost everyone I knew in the industry. Saturday night in Nashville would be my fourth time seeing them and my third inside this past year. Lead singer Alex Maas says very little to the audience and typically lets his music do all the communicating he needs. Judging by their previous shows, he must have been in a good mood as they performed some of their most thundering and rocking songs. “Don’t Play With Guns”, “Bloodhounds on My Trail” and “Young Men Dead” were just some of the song choices for the evening and the audience absolutely lost their minds over them. I can never get a good read on the band from an emotional standpoint, as they perform as if they are all about business, spending very little time interacting with the crowd in any capacity. I am not complaining in any way, as some bands can waste precious music time ranting about nonsense.

Perhaps that is one of the reasons this supremely talented band is still such a mystery to me. I know all of The Black Angels‘ songs, but very little about them beyond the music they create. It just always seems like they have one single focus in life and that is to kick as much ass as possible. They don’t need any of the other ‘fluff’’ that so many others focus on. I highly recommend checking out their sixth studio album, Wilderness of Mirrors, and catching them on any of the remaining tour dates. They are one of the best bands you will ever see!

Photography by Derek Jones

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