Live: The Black Angels at London Heaven

Written By:

Alice Shyy

02nd March 2011
At 10:25 GMT

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Dear loyal Strangeglue readers from over the years,

You may have forgotten about me, your humble servant in once-prolific live reviews. But I haven’t forgotten about you, my friends. In fact, I think about you all the time. I have been spending a lot of time working on something for all of us music lovers: The Note Well. It’s a music friendship project, meaning it connects listeners and musicians to each other in unconventional and fun ways, including reviews encouraging thought about how music can be social. The Note Well came out of my experiences meeting lots of fantastic folks at festivals and shows (mostly covering for Strangeglue), and wanting to create opportunities to make music even more interpersonal and thereby even more meaningful and fun.

My Note Well partner-in-crime and friend-in-life, Iris, encouraged me to see The Black Angels with her, so we are putting the goals of The Note Well in action and using our friendship in a response to the gig. Friendship makes music more exciting, and vice-versa. Iris and I met because of All Tomorrow’s Parties (ATP) festival, and we are trying our hand at our first friend-powered review at an ATP-promoted show. Often, we’ll see bands together but rarely do we get to think critically about our experiences. Even less often do we interview each other about it...

Here’s an introduction to The Black Angels live, Alice and Iris-style.

Yours in friendship,

The Black Angels at London Heaven, 24 February 2011: An Interview Review between Alice and Iris

Iris, interviewed by Alice

- How did you hear of Black Angels? --> ATP’s website. I was looking for a gig, and I got into them when I listened to them at Rough Trade. ‘Cause they are--or were--a featured band at one of their listening stations.
- Where are they from? -->  Montreal. Like definitely.
- What was your favorite part of the set? --> The beginning. I listen to [their track] “Bad Vibrations” on repeat, so it was exciting to see it performed in such a dramatic way at the start of the show.
- Least favorite part? --> The beginning. I was not making friends with the camera and got run over by security trying to break up the moshpit. Twice.
- Who’s your favorite band member? --> Uhm. Christian, the guitarist, because he held still long enough for you to take the above picture and save the mess I had made with the camera?
- How was the merch? --> There’s something a bit cult-like with a band that has a hoodie, a t-shirt, a badge, a DVD, a poster, and a sticker. It’s not very democratic because if you buy all of that then there’s not room for other bands in your life.
- What was the space like? --> It wasn’t funny enough. If I were a band called Black Angels and played at Heaven, I would have props!
- The audience? --> Very loud. They had a strange crowd. The long-haired men in the leather coats were happy.
- Did they have interesting lighting? --> They had a dude with a flashlight!
- Where are they from again? --> They’re not from Montreal?
- What’s your one problem with them? --> They’re a little bit too much maracas, a little bit too much mysticism. I’m good with the dark and the noise, but the hippie stuff I sometimes have a hard time with.
- Was it fun? --> They were exciting live--different from on record. I’m more or less a fan now.
- Do you wish you could see them again and again and again? Aaaaall day, every day.

Alice, interviewed by Iris

I: How did you hear of Black Angels?
A: I had seen them on the bill for ATP New York, but then when you said you liked them I started paying them attention.
I: Where are they from?
A: FLORIDA! Same here, me too, we’re the same!
I: What was your favorite part of the set?
A: The very beginning, wherein the stage and house lights were all down save a lonely floodlight illuminating the band’s backdrop in pale spectre. One-by-one, like zombie royalty, the band members were led onstage by a spry and bespectacled man wielding a huge flashlight. The Beach Boys played overhead, and it was good-eerie. Then the band came alive, and “Good Vibrations” dropped into “Bad Vibrations,” the monstrous opening track from their new album, Phosphene Dream. Power.
I: Least favorite part?
A: Getting crushed by security together. And then watching you get crushed again by security while I was trapped.
I: Who’s your favorite band member?
A: Christian, the guitarist--that dude went to university near my hometown in Florida AND he does the best yowling onstage. Also, the spry and bespectacled dude with the flashlight. I want one.
I: Dude or flashlight?
A: Um, both? Don’t they come together?
I: Okay, where are they really from?
A: Austin. But Florida is operative to where Christian’s from, and Christian’s operative to Black Angels. Soooo...
I: Was it fun?
A: The band performed with electrifying brilliance--the recorded stuff really came alive in a heart-pumping way. Although I like the extremes of psych rock and doom metal, didn’t quite feel like I was a part of their psych-metal fan scene. You know I’m a stand-in-the-front-and-get-involved kind of gig-goer, but after the initial hypnotism of the first five songs wherein nothing else mattered, when some people were still going bonkers I decided I would enjoy it more just hanging out with you in the back.
I: Do you wish you could see them again and again and again?
A: I’m definitely looking forward to catching them at SXSW in a couple weeks--I think it will be a very different crowd, which will be a good thing for me. Friendship drew me to this band, and friendship will draw me back.

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