ACL Fest Live Shots

Sunday, Sept. 17, Zilker Park

The Black Angels

Taking the stage right after a brief downpour, hometown psych-rock sextet the Black Angels blasted through a solid set of blues-infused drone custom fit for the dazed, bedraggled mood of a muggy Sunday afternoon. The Black Angels specialize in dark-hued lysergic journeys to the center of the mind powered by a tribal, Mo Tucker-style backbeat. Despite a varied palate of instrumentation that includes a Moog synthesizer, harmonica, and dueling hollowbody guitars, everything the sextet plays winds up collectivized into the rolling drone. Vocalist and sometime bassist Alex Maas took to the stage clad in a highly inappropriate flannel shirt, but his Sky Saxon vocal pitch was spot-on. Focusing on songs from their full-length debut, Passover (Light in the Attic), the Angels plowed through "Young Men Dead" before running headfirst into "The Sniper at the Gates of Heaven." The latter's lyric, "What is it like when hell surrounds you?" made for a deliciously odd contrast with the nearby gospel tent. The stomping protest vibe of "The First Vietnamese War" made sense both politically and climatically as the humidity aspired toward Saigon levels. Perhaps emboldened by near-constant touring, the Black Angels took a style of music that typically suffers in festival environments and made it downright groovy.

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