Saturday, February 24, 2024

Review: The Black Angels bring their psychedelic rock to the O2 Institute

  • The Black Angels took to the O2 Institute stage on 26th September
  • Support came from A Place To Bury Strangers and MASS DATURA
  • Visuals provided by the Mustachio Lightshow ensured a kaleidoscopic evening

The air was stale, a mixture of sweaty breathing bodies and spilled drinks. The floor was sticky, glistening in the light from the balcony. The roomed buzzed like a beehive, people chattering and humming in their isolated groups. There was an obvious sense of excitement and anticipation, waiting for Austin  based psychedelic rock group, The Black Angels. The band take hauntingly beautiful ethereal pieces and twist them around with a mixture of psychedelia and rock to produce an inescapably transcendent vortex of sound. The Black Angels delivered an awe-inspiring show to the Birmingham crowd.


Headliners in their own rights, A Place To Bury Strangers and MASS DATURA, kicked off the night. Both have uniquely individualistic sounds, mixing in electronic and ambient elements with a rock edge. The young bands have been hopping around with The Black Angels and are clearly beginning to solidify their live shows, giving great performances that held the crowd’s attention.

A Place To Bury Strangers

In a swirl of ambient noise and a psychedelic backdrop the headline band took to the stage, kicking off the night with ‘Currency’. The ramping build of the song was in rhythm with the pulsing kaleidoscope of colors bouncing off the backdrop courtesy of the infamous Mustachio Lightshow, giving a mesmerizing and hauntingly dark start to the show. A strong drum and synth coordination that had a bit of an extra terrestrial feel brought ‘Bad Vibrations’ into the set. The opening numbers reveal the depth of musicianship and creativity that The Black Angels bring to each tune; while their sound may be a mixture of genres their unique structure and nuanced shifts in tempo produced unheard movements that  highlight the beauty and depth of their creative talent.

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The Black Angels

‘The Prodigal Sun’, ‘Medicine’ and ‘I Hear Colors (Chromaesthesia)’ continued this flurry of sound and sights. From breathy space filled ‘The Prodigal Sun’ to the bassy ‘I Hear Colors’,  The Black Angels filled the space with a mixture of moments. ‘Black Grease’ brought about punctuated instrumentals that had a bit of a sedated grunge feel, the first real chance for many of the enthused audience to take a breath and relax into the high energy set.

The Black Angels

With a screen that appeared like melting mushrooms, a true psychedelic visual, the band launched into ‘Grab As Much (as you can)’. The strong rock intro and the trio of guitars gave the song a really meaty, heavy feel, whereas some of the songs pull from lighter styles, this song seemed to be weighed down in brilliant form by its rock undertone. The rock tone continued with ‘Half Believing’ and big sound ‘The Sniper at the Gates of Heaven’. With each song the drum and rhythm section grew in dominance, with ‘Entrance Song’ finding a bombastic punch of song. As a USA flag and what looked like the famed Texas landmark, The Alamo, danced off the screen, The Black Angles fully delved into their sonic blasts.

The Black Angels

‘I’d Kill for Her’ found elongated instrumentals that pulled again from the alien like sound. ‘Comanche Moon’ and Life Song’ followed bright and open, ‘You on the Run’. The set ended with a trio of encore songs that included ‘Death March’, ‘Bloodhounds on My Trail’ and ‘Young Men Dead’. The Black Angels mix familiar sounds in a new and exploratory way, proving that psychedelic rock is as much nostalgic as it is fresh. It seems to be the perfect reflection of Austin, a city that combines progressive movements with a historical foundation. The Black Angels delivered a transcendent show punctuated by moments of rock genius, leaving us all breathless.

Photographs by Radek Kubiszyn