The Black Angels: Wonder Ballroom, Portland, OR 5/11/11

The Black Angels stormed through Portland’s Wonder Ballroom on May 11th in support of their latest effort Phosphorene Dream. The Austin, TX psych rockers are known for an intense live show and epic stoner rock vibe. They did nothing to live that reputation down throughout a concisely monstrous set that like Rick Vaughn’s fastball, left a vapor trail in its wake.

Taking the stage to the sounds of The Beach Boy’s “Good Vibrations” and a an undulating tapestry straight out of London’s UFO club circa 1966, the band immediately declared their emphatic retro leanings. By stockpiling and then exploring a series of classic 60s R & B grooves plucked from their heroes, The 13th Floor Elevators, the band combined them with the black magic punch of wickedly evil axe interplay. By showcasing a unique ability to create an eye-fluttering, muscular wrath inside their concisely chronic metal, the heavy, blotter soaked riffs shook so ferociously from the stage many rattled audience members were moved to mosh, stage dive, and crowd surf. One such lad was inspired enough to attempt a full frontwards flip from the stage that did not look like it ended well.

The Angels catalog is chock full of heroic riffs like the one is “Black Grease” that could be used as the brick and mortar foundation for Dubai’s next momentous skyscraper. Drummer Stephanie Bailey is an absolute beast behind the kit, running circles around Meg White in the female drummer department and chasing The Secret Machines’ Josh Garza as the drummer with most punishingly heavy sound. Guitarist Christian Bland played with a rhythmically moody and sonically cavernous style that burrowed its way into hips and minds while organ, keyboard, and other worldly electronic swells created a blissfully thick haze of Spector-drenched squalls. By going full throttle and stomping through each track with the confrontational force of a back alley brawl between Black Sabbath and The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Angels turned the Wonder Ballroom inside out. Throbbing with urgency the night felt like waking inside a Hells Angels Acid Test.

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