Black Mountain Show Review

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Venue: Larimer Lounge

Location: Denver, Colorado

Date: 05/07/16

Inebriation Level: Buzzed (I may have woken up hungover that day)

The year was sometime in college. I was staying at my parent’s in boring I mean beautiful Castle Rock, Colorado for the summer. I went to the cultural hub of the city, which was the library (good for you Castle Rock). Back then, I would borrow CDs and burn them, the precursor to illegally downloading music. Aren’t I such a respectable music nerd? I was trying to complete my Black Sabbath collection, mainly because they’re really awesome, and in the ‘B’ section I picked up a CD with a mountain on it that said “Black Mountain” on the cover. It turned out to be their just released self-titled debut album. I figured I’d give it a try and threw it on the speakers later that day. The rest is history. Why do I remember that, yet still have to think for about four seconds anytime someone asks me my age? No idea.

They released a deluxe 10 year anniversary reissue of their debut back in 2015, and I got my hands on it a couple of months ago. I wondered, what ever happened to Black Mountain? I’d always wanted to see them live and had been patiently waiting for a new release after a six year hiatus. I kind of thought they had broken up. Then, just like that, a two day stint in Denver and the new album IV. Ask and you shall receive. I would like to ask for a million dollars. Worth a try, right?

I talked my friend Jesse into going, a like-minded music fan such as myself. We knocked back a few beers before the show, and considering I may or may not have woken up hungover that day, I wasn’t physically able to get after it too much. You see kids, when you get to be my age, you’re not hungover for a couple of hours, you’re hungover the entire day. Getting old is really lame.

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The show wasn’t sold out, but the Larimer Lounge wasn’t dead either. The crowd was surprisingly normal, with very few PBR cans, plaid shirts, and mustaches. I mean there were hipsters, don’t get me wrong, but not a whole crowd of hipsters. The venue is one of the smaller in the city, and has a great layout where the crowd can form and L around the tiny stage. We posted up on the side of the stage next to the keyboards, close enough to set our drinks on the equipment. We didn’t do that for the record, kind of a dick move.

The five piece came out guns blazing with the In the Future opener “Stormy High” followed by the new IV opener “Mothers of the Sun,” pretty much the most badass song of the year. Double opener, hot damn. Since we were positioned by the keys, our mix was low on guitar and vocals, but high on keys, drums, and bass. It was actually pretty awesome to hear the keyboards so prominently, and he was able to keep playing because we didn’t spill any beer on his sweet vintage equipment. Yay us.

Since it was a two night stint, I’m assuming a lot of their self-titled stuff was covered the night before, because they stuck with IV for most of the set. Like most fans, I have certain songs I want to hear when a band plays live. Black Mountain is a rare band for me in that I didn’t come in with an agenda; any song was good. In fact, I now love their new album even more after hearing it at a blistering volume. Isn’t that the whole point of touring, to get people to listen to your new album? Business plan revealed.

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The keyboards were incredible, with a mini Moog and some old school equipment I didn’t even recognize, played prominently right to our ears. The bassist was thumping along, though he did look like a 70’s used car salesman (think killer ‘stash and giant glasses, though missing the suit). Their lead singer lacked stage presence and was a little hard to hear on our end, but she surely made up for it with her incredible Grace Slick sounding vibrato. The only guy I knew was Stephen McBean, the leader of their group, that I’ll be damned, looks exactly like my IU music teacher Andy Hollinden. Think old dude that still rocks. I almost asked him when finals were due. Though the loudest and wildest of the group was their drummer, absolutely obliterating his tiny kit on every song.

After slowing down on a few numbers, knocking back some more ear shattering rockers, and cruising through the new album, they rounded out the show with a monster jam of “Wucan.” They nailed it so perfectly I was convinced it was the end of the show, but they instead closed out with the IV closer “Space to Bakersfield,” working the song in and out during a 15 minute jam.

They retreated to the dressing room for just a few moments before coming back for “No Hits,” one of the premier tracks on their self-titled album. As the song started, I was wondering what the plan was, because the main part of the song is a complete saxophone freakout, which of course is awesome. Instead, they let their drummer take over on the freakout, and as they worked the song for what seemed like hours, it was mesmerizing. I’ve got to say, it was one of the best closing tracks of a show I’ve witnessed pretty much ever.

After the show ended, the band hung around the tiny venue, so we were able to chat with a few of them and basically tell them how awesome they were. Considering we were catching a band that I had thought disappeared for good, we were witnessing badass rocking madness from just a few feet away, and they closed out the show in jaw-dropping fashion, I’d have to say the show was legendary. My only regret was not catching them on both nights of their two day stint. Now I know never pass on a Black Mountain show. You see kids, when you get to be my age, you learn things.

5/5: Legendary

5 Records

Set List:

Stormy High

Mothers of the Sun

Florian Saucer Attacks

Cemetery Breeding

Tyrants

You Can Dream

Line Them All Up

Old Fangs

Defector

Wucan

Space to Bakersfield

Encore:

No Hits

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