* here's a piece i wrote on black mountain from 2004. i believe it was the first gig that the band played "no hits" live. sure sounded good last night as an encore... tonight, round II: black angels/black mountain (w/ yours truly playing old records in between)...
The Georgia Straight
December 23, 2004
At Video In Studios on Thursday, December 16
It was a dark, damp sky that guided us to an evening billed as Acid: Nouveau Drug Art Films and Videos, featuring found footage, psychedelic reels, and a performance from Vancouver's own rock 'n' roll army, Black Mountain. Presented by Destroy Children ( www.videokill.ca/ ) and Video In Studios, the event drew a good-looking crowd, which congregated in the venue's spacious exhibition hall. Some were mildly disappointed at the absence of alcohol for sale, but in lieu there were "baked" goods, water, chips, and pop available at the ad hoc canteen. It was a shame that there was no electric Kool-Aid, but regardless, everyone appeared to be riding a real mellow vibe. A row of comfy couches lined the back wall, and the only pressure was finding the best spot to soak up the festivities.
Acid upheld a fine tradition of multimedia events in Vancouver that harks back to the lysergic days of the Retinal Circus, where the Velvet Underground and local acts like Papa Bear's Medicine Show and Mother Tuckers Yellow Duck would play. Featuring both classic and contemporary sights and sounds, the night revisited the past while simultaneously building for the future. On this evening, Black Mountain was set up amid a cutout forest filled with magical mushrooms and animals. Did I dream of mountaintops as well? An ever-changing series of images--starting with ACID , spelled out in three-metre-high, blue sunshine--coloured letters--was projected behind the band on the immense wall.
From the moment the festivities got under way, Black Mountain set its controls for rock. Playing drums and a keyboard, Josh Wells came across as a one-man version of '60s electronic duo the Silver Apples. Singer Amber Webber had the presence of a late-'60s songbird with a powerful voice as satisfying as real maple syrup. Wizardly keyboardist Jeremy Schmidt has clearly studied greats like Can's Irmin Schmidt and the Band's Garth Hudson. Providing strong bottom end on the bass guitar was Matt Camirand (also a member of Blood Meridian), who pushed the songs along with earnest propulsion. Leading the army on vocals and guitar was Steve McBean, who proved to be grizzly soul personified.
Kicking things off was "No Hits", a pounding number with Schmidt's Germanic keys, brutal beats from Wells, hypnotic call-and-response vocals, and a wall-of-sound finale. From that point on, the tunes veered from loose-limbed workouts to concentrated bursts of pure energy. "Set Us Free", "Faulty Times", and "Heart of Snow" transfixed those assembled with equal measures of blues-, psych-, punk-, and folk-rock. Is it January yet?
Preceding Black Mountain's set was an hour of short, homespun drug films by Lyndsay Sung, Heather Trawick, Toby Bannister, Corey Adams, Julia Feyrer, P:ano's Nick Krgovich, and members of Channels 3 and 4. Also on display: cult-cinema odds and sods like Syd's First Trip , an 8mm look at Pink Floyd's Barrett tripping on mushrooms in 1966; and bizarre Monkees footage that saw the band accompanied by drummer Buddy Miles, organist Brian Auger, and vocalist Julie Driscoll. If that wasn't enough, DjMagneticring ( www.castexotic.com/ ) filled the gaps beautifully with monster psych sounds from his personal archives, as compiled on a Titanium PowerBook.
Considering the breadth of creativity on display for a $7 admission, the audience made off like bandits. Don't miss the next trip.