Black Mountain. F*ckin’ A. Do I need to say more?
If you were there, then you know what I’m talking about. Black Mountain’s set was five songs and nearly 50 minutes that alternated between drippy, sticky, and trippy excursions and gut shaking, loud, acid washed Rock ‘N’ Roll. I can tell you how Amber Webber can haunt the room with her airy (and eerie) voice, or, I can tell you how guitarist Stephen McBean and bassist Matt Camirand would turn their back on the crowd ’cause they were too busy head bangin’ and shreddin’, but what really stood out was the nearly 20-minute set closer, “Bright Lights.” Believe me. I wasn’t the only one left with a one word vocabulary when the band revived the opening melody of “Bright Lights” some 17 minutes after they began this monster jam. When I walked outside the club all I could muster was “F*ck.” A few minutes later, as the magnitude of “Bright Lights” was still sinking in, I managed to make a sentence, “Man, that was some heavy sh*t.”
The Walkmen took the stage after Black Mountain in a truly unenviable position. The Walkmen may have the bigger name, and they may have drawn in a few more fans, but I wouldn’t wish the act of following Black Mountain on any band, let alone The Walkmen. They also had the misfortune of competing for attention with a playoff baseball game heading into extra innings that left a significant share of the crowd hanging around the bar. Even many of those who chose to watch the band were peaking at the tv sets every few seconds. Did I mention that the Walkmen’s vocalist Hamilton Leithauser was struggling with voice issues, too? If you’ve ever heard his trademark boozy, wail, then this shouldn’t surprise you. His style doesn’t exactly lend itself to a happy, healthy throat. At one point, he used an extended intro for “Thinking of a Dream I Had,” to grab a stiff drink from a bar. When that didn’t work, the band turned to some slower songs. That didn’t help much either. Eight songs into their set, a severely, hoarse Leithauser congratulated the crowd on scoring a run, and called it a night.
Cleveland’s Dreadful Yawns opened the night and once again turned in a very solid performance. The psych pop gem, “Don’t Know What I’ve Been On,” is quickly becoming their signature jam. Each time I’ve seen them do this song live, they’ve altered the style and location of their solos. Last time guitarists Ben Gmetro and Eric Schulte took time out during the middle of the song for some extended feedback acrobatics. This time around, they played it straight until the very end. Many in the crowd thought the song had ended when Gmetro coaxed a few skewered tones out of his guitar as the rest of his bandmates stood silent. There was an awkward moment in the crowd. Gmetro produced a few more squelches prompting the woman behind me to remark how the band must be experiencing technical problems. That wasn’t the case at all. The Yawns were biding their time before they jammed on it. The opening melody roared again, then just as abruptly as it started, the band peeled back, the reverb retreated, and only the sounds from a vintage organ remained. Two, three, maybe four times, they repeated this pattern, before they fully reconstructed the song. It was a brilliant close to a thoroughly enjoyable set.