Review: Spindrift/Dead Meadow/Black Angels

(all pictures by Mickey T. O’Narey except for the last 2, which for some reason I decided to take with my really bad phone camera.)

It was like a mini-Austin Psych Fest night.
Spindrift, Dead Meadow, and The Black Angels sharing the same bill on October 25th at Cabaret du Mile End in Montreal. I had been there once before to go see The Hold Steady, and though the location of this venue isn’t exactly in the core of downtown like most others, it was worth the (slight) detour. The sound was impeccable and though it probably has a capacity close to 500 people, you felt like you were seeing a really intimate show.

This was no exception.

Starting at 8h30pm, Spindrift took the stage and set the mood for what would be an all-out psych-rock night. Sporting a Hawkwind t-shirt and black cowboy hat, frontman Kirpatrick Thomas led the band into 45 minutes of gritty, western-tinged/Ennio Morricone-sounding psychedelic rock. The mood was set from the beginning by stunning visuals: black and white projections (of what seemed like cowboys) were running against a 60’s looking Psychedelia design as the band played a set of mostly instrumentals.

Stunningly enough, what I thought were sound effects used on record for atmospheric harmonies were actually done live perfectly by keyboardist Sasha Vallely, whose voice is simply otherworldly – matched in harmony with Kirpatrick Thomas‘ tougher voice, it’s simply perfect. Thanks to the incredible sound provided by the room, we could just let it all sink in.

Next was Dead Meadow, a band that’s been around for over 10 years now and has a sound all their own. Mix Black Sabbath with Can and you may be close. But then, I swear I heard some Stone Roses in there too. I had previously heard their 2008 album “Old Growth” and quite honestly got tired after 4-5 songs, but live they just blew me away. Extremely tight, trippy and unafraid of launching into long jam sessions, they definitely stood their own and set the pace perfectly for what would be a mind-melting set by The Black Angels.

I don’t really know where to start with The Black Angels. Although Mickey, who took charge of taking the pictures that night, said that he thought Dead Meadow were the best band of the night, I have to disagree. Black Angels played a perfect setlist and pulled off such a powerful and commanding performance that one could not take their eyes off them. Tearing through songs old and new, from 2006’s “Bloodhounds On My Trail” to their latest single “Telephone“, you get the feeling when watching them that this is a band that’s only going to get bigger and bigger.

But the point here isn’t to try to compare bands. The great thing about the night was that it didn’t seem like any band was trying to outdo the other one. There was a feeling of admiration and mutual respect from performer to performer, and though one can label it all as a “Psychedelic Rock” sound, the 3 acts had a such a different and original sound that at no point did you feel like the night was starting to repeat itself.

If you missed it, check out Them Blue Midnights‘ interview with Kirpatrick Thomas of Spindrift here. And stay tuned later this week: I have a contest for you to have the chance to win one of 2 signed Frank Turner LPs, as well as an interview with Wooden Shjips (who are in town next week at Sala Rossa – check out the Recommended Upcoming Shows section for details), as well as a review of US hard rockers The Killing Floor‘s first LP!

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