Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Black Mountain, September 13 at Richard’s on Richards
Smash pointed out on the drive home from this gig that it’s no good to describe music as “evocative” unless you mention what the music actually evokes. He gave the example of the sticker on the new Opeth album, which indeed claims the contents are “evocative.” What it really should say is that Ghost Reveries is evocative of early Genesis, Porcupine Tree, shafts of sunlight through cathedral windows, the high points of all other Opeth albums, the finest wines available to humanity, and a really good shag. I like it very much.

The Christa Min opened for Black Mountain, and they were evocative of a big dog let loose on a muddy trail—all energy and shaggy momentum. Unlike that runaway dog, though, it was difficult to tell how much fun they were having. When we used to play the Waterfront Cabaret, I remember someone in the seven-strong crowd telling us to smile onstage. I never forgot that. Because when you’re up there playing your strange songs to strange people, you should enjoy (and acknowledge to others present) the ridiculousness of your privileged position. Henceforth, I encourage everyone—not just performers—to smile, especially in this town, where too many people have adopted bitchface as part of the civic uniform.

S.T.R.E.E.T.S. were evocative of ’80s crossover bands, epic heavy metal, and, during certain dual harmony instrumental passages, The Fucking Champs. After the first two songs I thought “This is a job for Logan Sox,” but their material got better and more intricate as the set progressed. In the local metal for hipsters genre, I’d give them an edge over Three Inches of Blood.

Black Mountain were evocative of Can, PJ Harvey, Uriah Heep, Pink Floyd, the blues, breached levees, and the relief of exceeded expectations. Never having seen them live before, I thought maybe they’d be smug from local acclaim, content to trainwreck their way through the new album. Not a possibility, it turned out. Black Mountain were as solid and imposing as their name. The songs did lose some of their fine studio details in a live setting, but the fivesome (plus Masa, on occasional saxophone) more than compensated with their musicianship and control of dynamics, as they stretched out songs like “Druganaut” and “No Hits” with sexee, pulsating guitar & synth battles. Their music isn’t intricate on the surface; its complexity lies in the combination of tones and attack they use. A less-experienced band might deliver the same material as a tedious smudge, but the band I saw last night looked great, sounded great, and left me happy, unburdened, and wanting to hear more ASAP.

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