Reviewing a band's performance in which you’ve never heard of is always a risky proposition. Of course, you do some research before heading to the show, familiarizing yourself with the band’s work but still, there’s always that chance that the band is going to be horrible.
The flipside to that - there’s the possibility the band will be spectacular. Such was the case Sept. 28 as I pulled into Phoenix, Ariz.’s The Rhythm Room to check out The Black Angels.
The six-piece, Austin, Texas based The Black Angels have slowly but surely built a name for themselves playing festivals like Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, and South by Southwest this year, as well as sharing the stage with the Smashing Pumpkins and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.
I couldn’t tell you what the maximum occupancy at the Rhythm Room is but I can tell that as the opening bands went through their sets and the evening progressed, the venue reached near standing room only capacity, and the buzz around the smoking patio and the bar was on The Black Angels.
“Have you heard of these guys?” some disembodied voice asked.
“Um, no, can’t say I have,” came a weak, almost sheepish reply.
“Oh, they’re fuckin’ amazing man, they’ll totally blow you away,” went the chatter at the bar as those in the know informed the newly acquainted.
In total darkness, two old 8mm film projectors kicked to life spilling split images onto the white sheet serving as a backdrop. Some spaghetti western competed with black and white images of war, as the hypnotic guitar of Christian Bland laid down the foundation of “Young Dead Men,” from the bands most recent release, Passover.
Immediately I was hooked, engaged in a way totally unfamiliar to me in concert going experiences. Instead of the raw, raucous energy I’m so accustomed, the band reached out from the stage, reaching inside, grabbing me at the base of my spine, forcing me to pay attention.