Black Owls, Golden Animals, Roky Erickson and Black Angels play SGHR
Article Written by: Nicolas Perkins
Photos by: Kim Smith
Blazing a square, walking past the bands loading into the Southgate House Revival, I saw The Golden Animals. They got me the press pass I was about to flash to club security and I thought about saying hello right then as I passed them but I figured I'd give them a chance to get settled first. The show was sold out and The Golden Animals were the opening act for Roky Erickson, of Thirteenth Floor Elevators fame, and The Black Angles, the famous psychedelic rockers from Austin, Texas.
When I walked in the club, I went straight to the bar in the revival room and heard local band, The Black Owls sound-checking. The revival room was free that night, you only had to pay to get in the sanctuary. I saw a friend hoping to score tickets after the show started. He actually did by the way, which amazed me because a lot of people I saw early couldn't get tickets to the show. He actually ran into one of the guys in Rokys band and I guess they had some left on their guest list because he let a couple more people in the show without tickets. You have to appreciate a band member that loves the fans enough to let them in for free.
After The Black Owls finished their sound-check I saw The Golden Animals walk up to the bar. As far as I knew when I walked past them loading in, they were a two piece, guitar and drums. Now they are a three piece with a keyboardist playing mostly bass parts. I said hello and told them who I was, that Shawn Abnoxious had sent me as a representative of THWART blog. I didn't know for sure it was them because I'd only seen a few pictures of them online, which they are an all around attractive band so it was easy to pick them out of a crowd. Their keyboardist, who I still thought was the drummer, was wearing a black furry coat and hat and when I said hello to her, I was pleasantly surprised by her European accent. They told me that I could do an interview with them when they were finished with their sound-check, which is funny to me now because after the show I found out that they had already done their check and that they considered themselves to be the check for the Black Angels, so when they finished their actual set I would talk to them.
I watched the Black Owls for a bit because the sanctuary was closed, doors at 9 pm. Their set was really good from what I heard, I was in and out a little bit to hook up with the photographer and get her into the show because I had a plus one for a photographer so, admittedly, I didn't see their whole set. I got a whisky in while watching them, getting prepped for the show in the sanctuary.
The Golden Animals started shortly after the doors to the sanctuary opened. Their lead vocalist/guitarist, Tommy Eisner, really impressed me with his finger-style guitar. After the show, he told me that he developed his technique because they started as a two piece and he needed something to fill in between since they had no bass. Now their keyboardist does some of that but he still plays the parts using the finger-style technique, and to great avail, I really dug his licks for sure. Their backing vocalist/drummer, Linda Beecroft was a little heavy on the rolls but she played her part very well with haunting complimentary backing vocals. I love background vocals that haunt the music with their well tempered subtlety. Linda and Tommy are both visually stunning on stage. She is very tall and has a bit of a Florence and the Machine presence on stage. He is a bit more subdued, focusing on the picking, but he has a cool New York hipster vibe to his dress with a double breasted jacket and boots. Their keyboardist is new to the live band, Tommy said she had only been playing with them for about two months, but it all seemed to mesh well as a live experience. She didn't have lead parts but she filled in the bass very well. Tommy told me it felt very natural to fit her in the band and it showed through in the live experience.
After the show I had a drink with Tommy and I had to rip on him a little bit for drinking Irish whisky in bourbon country, but he took it with a laugh. I think by the end of our interview, I had him convinced that Wild Turkey and Ale 8 could be a good drink, but then again maybe he was just humoring me. He actually started to interview me a little bit about what he had heard about the Cincinnati music scene. He was an easy guy to talk to and seemed genuinely interested so I told him about some of the great music around town and he made a comment about it that I thought was worth repeating, he said, “Great things can happen anywhere in America, and part of the equation is that no one is thinking about it.” That seemed like a poignant quote because of the quality of the show that night.
Roky Erickson and his band was up next, and despite the fact that Roky is getting a little long in the tooth, they were great. The band he put together was great and they kept the crowd interested with some Thirteenth Floor Elevators songs. It definitely wasn't the type of new school 'psych' of The Black Angels, it was more like--and I'm biting Shawn Abnoxious' words here--the older school before the '-adelic' got dropped from the equation. After the show I saw Roky getting into his Winnebago with his wife who seemed very thankful to all the fans as they passed by. You could tell Roky was excited to be on the road and so was his band considering they were giving fans without tickets their guest list spots. They had a good travel setup compared to the mini-vans you see most bands traveling in, though it was definitely a step down from the large tour van of The Black Angels.
The Black Angels were the headlining act, and they lived up to their billing. The crowd seemed to get up even more for them. And by up, I mean up, it was almost like everyone was ready for the Stones or something; they were at the 'Rip this Joint' point. Christian Bland, their main guitarist, really impressed me. He played many guitars throughout the night, but he had a Rickenbacker that stood out tonally to me. I would love to see his new act, Christian Bland and The Revelators. Their vocalist Alex Mass, who also plays bass and organ, was very good with his drone-y vocals. They ripped through a set that included a lot of new stuff from their album Indigo Meadow but also had a lot of nods to the older stuff that their fans wanted to hear. As always their light show impressed, which is typical of the psych scene from Austin. They had two guys running the projectors and the colors and images were great and certainly added to the intensity of the music. I have to say it was a great evening of music and I thank The Golden Animals and Shawn Abnoxious for getting me in under the press pass.
Thwart Thanks: Mark Allen, Nicolas Perkins, Kim Smith, Southgate House Revival, Golden Animals,