Sometimes I wonder why I do it. Why have I dedicated my life to Rock ‘N’ Roll. Why do I spend all this time keeping up I Rock Cleveland — every day during my lunch break, an hour or so every night, long stretches of the weekend. It seems like a lot of effort just to get a bunch of emails saying, “Dude, thanks for doing what you’re doing.”
Then, there are times like last night, where it all seems worth it. You’re in a small, cramped up. The amps are turned up and the lights way down. The Black Angels are on stage. The sounds of “Black Grease” are rumbling through the building, covering every inch of your body, and absolutely nothing else matters — it’s just you and the music. There’s no drug that can make that feeling. It can only come from Rock ‘N’ Roll.
This was the third time I’ve seen The Black Angels in the past year, 2nd time headlining The Tavern, and this past fall when they opened for The Black Keys. I’m not sure it was their best performance — that would still be that night at The Agora — yet, any night with The Black Angels is a fine night for rock.
The Angels’ Psychedelic Drone Machine was operating at full force last night. Their set started with this slow, marauding number (I’ll call it New 1, until I find out its real name) and ran straight into the fiercely hypnotic “Sniper At The Gates of Heaven.” The style of these first two numbers would set the tone for the night. The Black Angels took their time last night, adding extended intros and outros to some of their older numbers like “Empire” and “The Prodigal Sun.” They also tested out a handful of new tunes. Aside from “You In Color,” a rocker that by all means should be track one on their next album, many of them were slow, mesmerizing psychedelic explorations.
The Black Angels closed their set with a cover of The Velvet Underground’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties,” and thanks to our new clean air laws, had to leave for a bit to find a safe place for a smoke before returning for an encore. The second set was highlighted by a ripping rendition of “First Vietnamese War” followed by The Stooges’ classic shredder, “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” They could have ended it there. Maybe they should have, since what followed was a twenty minute freak out. I don’t blame them for the extendo-jam — you gotta have a good time when you’re out on the road, but as the jam went on, well past 1 AM, the crowd dwindled.
Vietnam took the stage before the Black Angels and treated the crowd to some top jams off of their 2007 self titled release on Kemado. If possible, they looked even skinnier than when they were here with The Lemonheads. C’mon guys, buy their records so they can get some cheeseburgers, or better yet, some protein shakes. At times during last night’s set, they seemed a bit languid. The jams like “Welcome To My Room” sounded just as tight, but there wasn’t much on stage motion from the boys in the band.