Posted in music | pictures on September 1, 2010

words & photos by Benjamin Lozovsky

Black Mountain

On their upcoming album Wilderness Heart, the Black Mountain chose to soften up their previously diamond-tough chemical composition with bittersweet acoustic touches and largely uncluttered vocal and melodic elements.

Live though, its all-continental upheaval, all the time. With few exceptions, like opening its set at the Knitting Factory Monday (8/30) with "Radiant Hearts," an especially atmospheric Wilderness track full of woozy Melotron, Black Mountain focused on expanding the already waist-busting girth (bore) of their heavy, 70's obsessed riff rock.

Even as their more varied approach on Wilderness does a lot to widen their musical identity, guitarist Stephen McBean and his Vancouver bandmates are still immeasurably spurred forth musically by their idols. The Hammond organs blaring over a sludgy yet punctuated drum beat during "Old Fangs" felt like an ode to Steppenwolf. "The Hair Song," with an unusual (for the band) country-road warmth and spirit of optimism, could easily be a skillful reworking of Zeppelin's "Traveling Riverside Blues."

But pinpointing each individual reference throughout Black Mountain's music is counterintuitive. To experience the group is more of a wholly sensory indulgence than a challenging intellectual pursuit. Monday night, it was better to let the brooding yet ethereal howl of McBean and vocalist Amber Weber confuse your spirits, or to follow the minute subtleties of McBean's hefty but economical guitar, or listen for unpredictable synth lines by Jeremy Schmidt rising from sonic muck, or just let the unflappable rhythm section of bassist Matt Camirand and drummer Josh Wells leave your head freely swiveling in a drugged-out haze.

Opener The War On Drugs make referential drugged-out haze as well, but choose reverb heavy California sounds, distantly approachable Americana, and the Velvet Underground circa Loaded as their template instead. Most of the band's songs progressed slowly throughout their set, each rising with intensity around mostly static drum patterns and droney, arpeggiated chords played by leader and guitarist Adam Granduciel. It was far from the direct and plaintive meets noisy approach on their recorded work, and the group spent most of its set winning over the audience. After most fully capturing the crowd's attention with the foot-stomping Kraut meets Springsteen number "A Needle in Your Eye," the group then inexplicably finished with an unnecessarily prolonged, 10 plus minute drone and noise exploration that instead of bringing their mind altering aspirations to a head, actually sobered most listeners up. The War on Drugs rages on.

Black Mountain hit the road with The Black Angels at the end of October. The War on Drugs played a 2nd NYC show last night at The Rock Shop (how was that?).

Pictures from War on Drug's Knitting Factory set are HERE with pictures from the rest of the show, with Black Mountain's setlist, below...

The War On Drugs
The War On Drugs
The War On Drugs
The War On Drugs
The War On Drugs
The War On Drugs
The War On Drugs
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain
Black Mountain

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Comments (34)

Who the fuck is Black Mountain?

Posted by Anonymous | September 1, 2010 5:55 PM

Written setlist doesn't include the two encores.

Also, what's a "hefty but economical guitar" or a "brooding yet ethereal howl" ?? This writing is awful.

Posted by Anonymous | September 1, 2010 6:01 PM

5:55 - The singer is cousins with the manager of the band Train.

Posted by Anonymous | September 1, 2010 6:10 PM

too many pictures.

Posted by Anonymous | September 1, 2010 6:14 PM

This show was incredibly dull... it was sold out but about half full by the time BM was done. The only reason they've blown up is because they play directly to the classic-rock fetish nursed by critics and other music dorks.

Posted by Anonymous | September 1, 2010 6:16 PM

The War of Drugs did not win over the crowd as the article said, everyone could not wait till that crap was over

Posted by Anonymous | September 1, 2010 6:17 PM

Black Mehntain

Posted by Anonymous | September 1, 2010 6:32 PM

i think they are still good.

Posted by Anonymous | September 1, 2010 9:03 PM

anyone know the first encore song? ended with druganaut ->no statisfaction

Posted by Anonymous | September 1, 2010 9:21 PM

that first encore song was Let Spirits Ride, it kicks ass

Posted by Anonymous | September 1, 2010 10:42 PM

Wucan is a cool song, check it out.

Posted by Anonymous | September 1, 2010 11:02 PM

I love BM's last album, and was really excited to see them live. But I didn't gain a new appreciation for them after seeing them! Amber Weber is a great vocalist, but she's not a show(wo)man. Putting her front & center just looked awkward.

And I agree with 6:17 - War on Drugs had a few good moments, but that last song was enough to make even a hummus joke seem fun.

Posted by Anonymous | September 1, 2010 11:51 PM

Were you that annoying guy with the red haired white boy fro in the front? You damn near ruined the show for all of us in the front trying to enjoy a great band. Thanks for being a douche.

Posted by Anonymous | September 2, 2010 4:05 AM

I should clarify. There was a dude taking all these pictures, getting in everyone's way, stepping in front of us, stepping behind us. There was literally a part of the show where I got to the front of the stage and the guy had his fucking camera basically sitting on my cheek. It was all fucking night. Everyone hates you dude. Ask anyone in the front, you were the worst part of the entire night. Glad to know all that bull was for this snooty blog, full of haters that weren't even there.

Black Mountain was awesome, that is all.

Posted by Anonymous | September 2, 2010 4:10 AM

Oh, and one last thing. Just attempted to read this dribble. You suck as a writer too. You were rude at the show and then wrote an article that makes me think you weren't even there. Wow, you use big words that have nothing to do with the music. There are college papers looking for talent like yours. Listen to the music, tell us what happened, stay out of the way at the show and realize it's not about you.

Good luck, I mean that, I hope you get better at what you do.

Posted by Anonymous | September 2, 2010 4:14 AM

ugh. this writing is embarassing. cringeworthy. i like black mountain but these pics sure make them look like a boring ass band.

Posted by Anonymous | September 2, 2010 8:45 AM

4:14 - just because your brother is in the band, doesn't mean you have to put down the pictures. BM sucks, just leave at that. Sorry, truth hurts.

Posted by Anonymous | September 2, 2010 9:06 AM

Just saw them in LA last week and thought the show was awesome. Maybe it was a difference in venues or something, but they totally brought it.

Posted by Anonymous | September 2, 2010 10:18 AM

i was standing near the photographer/writer. i think everyone's fine with shooting a few shots, but this guy really did shoot through the entire sets of both bands to the point of distraction. and shot the last couple of songs on video, so the person who commented above nearly had her head taken off a few times when he zoomed in. i expected to see a fight, but she kept her cool when the guy repeatedly hit her on the head with the camera.

i also agree amber shouldn't be front and center. she looks anxiously from side to side at the guys like "someone take the focus off of me." they should position her on the side, and let mcbean take center, or matt. they're both showier than she is (and i don't mean that rudely).

i feel bad for people who have nothing else to do with their time than to comment on blogs they don't even like. i read blogs i like, maybe you should do the same. it's much more rewarding.

Posted by Anonymous | September 2, 2010 10:28 AM

that was probably the most pretentious piece of garbage I've ever read. Send that shit to Rolling Stone, I bet they'll be impressed.

I would love to picture this nerd sitting on the floor while they're playing and scribbling into his little moleskin notebook.

Clown.

Posted by Anonymous | September 2, 2010 1:10 PM

"But pinpointing each individual reference throughout Black Mountain's music is counterintuitive. To experience the group is more of a wholly sensory indulgence than a challenging intellectual pursuit."

Ha,Ha...what the fuck?!

Posted by Anonymous | September 2, 2010 1:11 PM

1:10 - I thought the review was spot on.

Posted by Anonymous | September 2, 2010 1:23 PM

@ 1:23

Only the writer could think that. You must be the writer.

Posted by Anonymous | September 2, 2010 1:49 PM

The dude in the green shirt looks like a drunk Timothy Spall.

Posted by Anonymous | September 2, 2010 2:00 PM

And just so you know, the crowd shot here was before anyone really started playing. The show was sold out, and when Black Mountain came on was full. No one left early, as was indicated, that I saw. At the end of the night, BM got a legit encore with people chanting and cheering for about 5-10 minutes before they came back on.

My only complaints all night, no BM Merch (besides the clubs poster, which I bought), the show started a lot later then it was advertised and the friggin camera man was a distraction all night.

Posted by Anonymous | September 2, 2010 2:03 PM

You bought a poster? I bet that'll look great on your dorm wall.

Posted by Anonymous | September 2, 2010 2:24 PM

^No, I still live with my Mom, I'm in high school.

Posted by Anonymous | September 2, 2010 2:34 PM

The show was sick, people who are saying otherwise weren't there. this band will play msg in some capacity within the next few years.

Posted by Anonymous | September 2, 2010 2:37 PM

^lol, it's the high schooler posting again.

Posted by Anonymous | September 2, 2010 2:40 PM

What a bunch of complainers. I was up front the whole show, talked to the photog, he was nice. Was there up front as well before the first band even went on, while the rest of you were too cool to even move up and check out the opener. Then some dumb blond older woman comes up and forces her way up front, steals his spot, on the stage while he's turned around. Dude didn't even around the crowd more than once, just chilled in his one spot. I did see the woman get lightly tapped on the head with his gear, but honestly she squeezed into any tiny breathing room he had, so she pretty much deserved it.

And the writing? It's more complex I guess, but I like it. Seems like most people on here bash on it because they don't even understand it. That makes you look like a straight up retard. Enjoy your idiotic existence. Black Mountain rules.

Posted by Anonymous | September 2, 2010 2:51 PM

I was at this show. I'm the guy in the green shirt. Black Mountain was awesome. Great to see this band in a small club before they blow up. Mcbean and company are all really talented. They all have side projects that are almost as good as BM but all together they a force of nature. Music written in 1970 for 2010.

Posted by Anonymous | September 2, 2010 3:00 PM

At least there were only 2 blogtographers. Pics are boring because the show was boring. Many people left before encore. Dig their records, live show needs some umph.

Posted by Anonymous | September 2, 2010 5:00 PM

"Seems like most people on here bash on it because they don't even understand it."

No, its because it makes no sense whatsoever. Stringing a bunch of big words together doesn't make good writing, especially when the phrases are meaningless drivel. For instance,"immeasurably spurred forth" or "sludgy yet punctuated" or "brooding yet ethereal howl". Utter nonsense.

Posted by Anonymous | September 2, 2010 5:16 PM

y'all can go fck urselves.

Posted by Anonymous | September 10, 2010 9:04 PM

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