The Black Angels were made for these dark and tumultuous times. The throbbing psych pulse, scathing riffs, and droning, hypnotic rhythms that broil behind increasingly biting lyrics teem with relentless catharsis. The local septet brought its full brunt to bear Saturday evening as they opened the floodgates to the Barton Springs stage.
Opening with “Currency,” lead track from this year’s Death Song, the low boom and thrash demanded the sun set early. That heavy cloak led to the pummeling “Bad Vibrations,” driven by Stephanie Bailey’s furious drums. Alex Maas chanted into older highlight “The Prodigal Sun” from Passover, while the screeching roar and rush of “I Dreamt” returned to their latest album.
The band battled through several moments of technical difficulties, but never let up or let the vibrations settle. “Medicine” unloaded heavier Brit psych like the Stone Roses fueled by more anxiety, and “Entrance Song” tore a highway-sized sonic hole through the evening. “I’d Kill For Her” rattled the stage behind a crashing, four-guitar roar.
Although they dosed the hometown crowd with a solid cross career set-list, the new material rang with palpable urgency, receiving full response from the fans. Rolling into the closing, reverb-drenched dread of “Young Men Dead,” the Black Angels proved themselves not only one of Austin’s most vital bands, but perhaps one of the best of the entire ACL Fest.
The Black Angels really should have their own festival.
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