Over The Weekend: The Black Angels, Sleepy Sun and True Widow at The Loft

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The Black Angels, Sleepy Sun and True Widow
The Loft
May 21, 2011

Sure, Saturday night's particularly droney  triple-bill of The Black Angels, Sleepy Sun and True Widow may have taken place inside The Loft. But it hardly felt that way, instead feeling more like a spur-of-the-moment field party.

Credit (or blame) the humidity of the night on this much -- or maybe the free LMFAO concert taking place across the street as part of the CuervoGames event, which, coupled with this sold-out show, gave South Lamar a buzz and activity rarely seen in the neighborhood.

Suffice it to say that the scene was a vibrant one. And, sure, a therapeutic one, too.

In this case, the therapy came in the form of catharsis.

Once regular area performers, Austin's The Black Angels had been strangely absent, as shows go at least, from the Dallas landscape in recent memory, even on the heels of the release of their 2010 album, Phosphene Dream. Clearly, though: The band's backing off proved beneficial; by the time the band launched into their set a few minutes before the clock struck 11 p.m., anticipation for their offerings were high. So, too, were spirits in the room; only moments prior, the Dallas Mavericks had completed their Game Three victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the crowd that had gathered by the room's back televisions to watch as much had now moved front-and-center, crowding the stage, ready for their faces to be melted by the Angels' brand of psychedelia.

And, over the course of the band's 70-minute main set and following 15-minute encore offering, all of which leaned particularly heavily on the excellent Phosphene Dream (perhaps most focused album of the band's career), while only touching on 2006's Passover and 2008's Directions to See a Ghost. "Entrance Song," which was penned in Dallas, came three songs into the performance, washing over the all-too-eager crowd, as lead vocalist Alex Mass egged them along with near-tribal crooning. The bouncy and jangly "Telephone Blues" too shined, albeit somewhat differently, conjuring visuals of go-go dancers shimmying in frilly dresses, even as the dazed crowd simply swayed along.

It was an engaging display to be sure, as the focus of audience members at varying stages of sobriety (or lack thereof) were transfixed by the band on stage's offerings, all of which were bathed in alternately swirling and blinking light swaths.

The Angels, of course, had some help: Earlier in the night, a particularly well-received offering from the less-dark, more-jangly San Francisco psych act Sleepy Sun, had prepped the crowd well for the headliners' heavier fare; earlier still, Dallas-based opening act True Widow, fresh off a tour of the east coast in support of Trail of Dead and Surfer Blood, offered p sludgy offerings from the other side of the Angels' sonic spectrum.

The Angels, last in bill ordering, but right in the middle as sound goes, capitalized on as much, immersed in their own sonic offerings, nearly possessed by them. It was a heroic display, and, upon completion of as much, the crowd ushered them off the stage with a response fitting of such an offering.

Enough so that the band won't wait so long before their next trip back to North Texas? One would hope.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
I dig the crap out of the Black Angels. Always have. But, until I started to actually think about it, I hadn't realized how many times I'd seen them. After this show, I can now count five times in my mind. Considering the strength of their new material and the consistent improvements seen at each of these shows, I suspect I'll see them that many more times, at least by the time it's all said and done.

Random Note: True Widow's members were in especially high spirits on this night, happy to be home from tour, and even happier, to be amongst the many friends who'd shown on their night to welcome them back to town.

By The Way: Over 500 people were crammed into The Loft for this show, making it a crowded affair. Fortunately, it wasn't too bad. I've been to shows at The Loft where they've sold as many as 600 tickets. Thank goodness for re-evaluation.

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