Judging by all the Pylon and Velvet Underground live bootlegs playing through the PA before the show started, The Spin had a feeling it would be a good night — and we weren't the only ones. Maybe we've been going to the wrong shows, but it's been a while since we've seen people already claiming their spots at the front of the Exit/In stage at 8:30 p.m., much less on a Wednesday night.
Casino vs. Japan, brain child of Kentucky-based Erik Kowalski, kicked the night off with a slowly building set of droned-out loops and samples. His music felt more like a dark part of the house music than a stand-alone set, but there's only so much of a show one can put on standing alone behind a bunch of electronic gizmos.
"His set's pretty cool, but I really wish I could see what he's doing," said a fellow concertgoer. So did we.
Having never heard Deakin, our expectations were none too high. Watching him set up felt predictable — sampler: check; drum machine: check; super-effected vocals: check. We thought we'd be treated to a mediocre Animal Collective side project, but were we ever wrong. Hearing Deakin, who is still technically a member but hasn't played with the band for a few years, helps make sense of the stylistic shift between the last two A.C. records. Between the glitch-tinged beats and delay-drenched melisma vocals, we clearly saw his contributions to Strawberry Jam. Most artists of his ilk tend to overstay their welcome in a live setting, but Deakin's short-but-sweet set, clocking in at just over a half-hour, left us seeking out the merch table.
Anticipation swelled as people started squeezing forward for the best possible spot. Last time we saw Deerhunter play in town, it was to a lukewarm audience of maybe 150 people, so this buzzing, sold-out room was quite a nice surprise — bravo, Nashville. The band began the last night of their Halcyon Digest tour with guitarist Lockett Pundt singing the extended guitar jam "Desire Lines." Singer Bradford Cox politely thanked the audience for coming out, and throughout the set, he and his bandmates wove seamlessly between ambient, looping songs that reminded us of their Cryptograms era, and new song after new song. Josh Fauver and Moses Archuleta kept the beat steady and the low end constant while the guitars freely looped and interlocked.
The highlight of the set was "Helicopter." Giving the Halcyon Digest single an extended delayed-guitar intro and a slightly slowed-down tempo, Deerhunter showed that, if anything, they can translate their album cuts into refreshingly changed-up live versions. With its overdriven climax and 10-minute ambient outro, set closer "Calvary Scars" truly made it feel like the end of the show, the end of the night, and the culmination of a tour.
There were cops everywhere, man. It was like The Spin had driven straight into every stoner's worst nightmare: cops, roadblocks, flashing lights at every pass, cranes with spotlights pointed at the middle of the street. Wait, what the hell was a spotlight doing on a crane in the middle of the street? We knew the Republicans did well in recent elections, but this was downright Orwellian. We just wanted to see Black Mountain, man. Hang out at Mercy Lounge and enjoy our Thursday, man. But Johnny Law and his shiny cop lights were harshing our mellow.
Ends up it was some independent movie-film named Fireball — not to be confused with Fireball XL5, the classic puppets-on-a-spaceship show — so good for them, making their movie with, y'know, real equipment and permits and shit. We were torn between cheering our local film scene and bitching about the absolute clusterfuck of a parking situation it caused. The movie better be fucking awesome, is all we're saying. As we were walking up to Mercy, we saw the parking lot was a little empty, and we began to worry. Was Howard Hughes making his movie over at the methadone clinic gonna put the kibosh on what should have been a packed show?
Not at all. We got to listen to the first two Black Mountain songs while standing in line, only to get upstairs and find ourselves in a room full of people already getting their rock on. We were honestly surprised to see that so many folks had turned off their black lights and put down their bongs in time to make the early start. But then again, it was the kind of super-psychedelic double bill — Austin's The Black Angels were the headliners — that brings the beardos out of the woodwork, and we were more than stoked to head-bang right alongside them.
Black Mountain were on fire, grinding out the monster riffs from their latest album Wilderness Hearts: "Old Fang," "Roller Coaster," "Let Spirits Ride" — all the hits. In the five years since we first saw them, they have turned into a live juggernaut — a rumbling, cosmic barrage of heavy sounds like the tidal pull of dark matter on a beach at the edge of the universe. That, or all the slo-mo headbanging we did during their set finally knocked our last screw loose. Either way, we could not have enjoyed ourselves more. They pulled out "Stormy High" from their sophomore album In the Future, and closed with their classic "Don't Run Our Hearts Around." It was a 75-minute journey deep into the heart of rock 'n' roll, and it ruled.
We've never really been huge fans of The Black Angels. On paper, they should be one of our favorite bands, since they've got all the sound and style we look for in a band, but for some odd reason they've never quite clicked with our wig-dome. Sure, that's some serious psychedelic hair-splitting, but that's how we do. They are a killer live band and we definitely enjoyed their set — by that point in the night the room had basically turned into a college drop-out reunion — but there are other psych bands with the word "black" in their name that we dig more. But whatever — it was a badass double bill, and we're assholes for complaining. We rocked out, we didn't get pinched by the police, and we got home relatively early. All around, an epic win. The parking situation was pretty bullshit, though.
When we hear the heavy, heavy psych jams, we whip our hair back and forth. Email email@example.com.
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needs more candlelight! i like this song.