Live – The Black Angels and A Place to Bury Strangers – Chicago, IL – May 11, 2017

I will see The Black Angels or A Place to Bury Strangers at any opportunity, so having them both on the same bill is a win-win and a must-see for me.  Seeing them in Chicago’s Thalia Hall was an added bonus because the acoustics there are outstanding and there isn’t a bad place to stand or sit in the joint.

A Place to Bury Strangers were prompt, starting the show at 9:00pm sharp (which seems to be a trend in Chicago venues as of late).  They came out as they always do – loud and heavy.  They opened with “We’ve Come So Far” from Transfixiation and it was off to the races.  The addition of Lia Braswell on drums is a great one, as she practically beat her kit into the floor.  Her backing vocals bring a new dimension to many APTBS tracks, and I hope this trend continues on some new material.  Guitarist and lead singer Oliver Ackermann was on fire for their whole set.

Every APTBS show looks like a scene from a John Carpenter film.

They ended their set with a wild sequencer / synth / bass / light show that I’d seen them do before in Detroit.  They moved into the crowd and were soon casting laser lights and weird, warping synths beats and Dion Lunadon’s growling bass licks throughout the whole hall.

APTBS blowing minds and retinas in Thalia Hall.

As if that weren’t trippy enough, the Black Angels started their set with this image.

Do I detect a nod to Devo here?

“Take your acid now,” said a friend of mine upon seeing this.  The Black Angels opened up with “Currency,” the first single off their new album – Death Song (review coming soon).  “Bad Vibrations” (always a favorite) followed, and it again wowed the crowd.

The Black Angels dropping “Currency” from their new album.

This was the sixth time I’ve seen the Black Angels (and the third I’ve seen APTBS), and this might’ve been the heaviest set I’ve seen by them.  My wife (who’s seen them five of the six times with me) noticed this, too.  The version of “You On the Run” they played was certainly the heaviest I’d heard.  It bordered on stoner metal.  Christian Bland’s guitar seemed cranked to 11 in terms of volume and distortion for the entire show.  Stephanie Bailey further cemented her prowess as one of the best rock drummers of our time.  I say this every time I see the Black Angels live: Stephanie Bailey is their secret weapon.  I later realized this was the first show I’d seen in a while in which both bands had powerful drummers.

The Black Angels getting heavy.

They played many tracks from the new record.  “Half Believing,” “Comanche Moon,” “I Dreamt,” “Medicine,” “Grab As Much As You Can,” and “Death March” all sounded great.  They closed with “Young Men Dead,” which made one man behind me so happy that he rushed ahead of me to head-bang and share his one-hitter with the strangers to his left and right.

The Black Angels performing “Young Men Dead” during their encore.

This made six good shows in a row from the Black Angels and three straight for APTBS in my experience.  This tour is selling out across the country, so you’d better get your tickets soon if you want to catch it.  I also must give a salute to the two men who make up the Mustachio Light Show.  They provided all the wild and stunning visuals during the Black Angels’ set.  It’s a great addition to this tour.

Thanks to Oliver Ackermann, Steven Matrick, and Burgers Rana for getting me a press pass to this show.  I’ll have an interview with Oliver Ackermann posted soon as well.

Keep your mind open.

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Nik Havert

I've been a music fan since my parents gave me a record player for Christmas when I was still in grade school. The first record I remember owning was "Sesame Street Disco." I've been a professional writer since 2004, but writing long before that. My first published work was in a middle school literary magazine and was a story about a zoo in which the animals could talk.

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