Any modern hipster who thinks that they have it made would have been delighted to brag about going to see the Black Angels for free at the Newport Music Hall in Columbus. They would have combed their bangs in their face, worn a tight zip-up hoodie with skinny jeans and pranced in, holding hands with their girlfriend talking about the latest trends in art and stoner rock. I, on the other hand, secured my tickets with the booking agent along with a photo pass for my sister’s boyfriend and got ready to be as judgmental yet open-minded as I could. I have gotten pretty into the Black Angels over the last couple years. The 2010 album, Phosphene Dream, in particular is solidly made with psychedelic drone and moderately poppy beats. “Pop” as in “catchy”. The Black Angels are not cheesy pop hit-makers, but they have a few songs that you will catch yourself humming. “We made love in June…I heard it from you”…Lead vocalist, Alex Maas’s voice is so distinctive with haunted shrills and sudden grunts; there is a certain androgynous pitch to it that sounds slightly feminine, yet he hides under an old man’s hat and beard in the strobe lights and shadows of the stage. The Newport is a huge theatrical acting space. It’s old, probably haunted, but has a really cool ‘worn theater’ vibe, and two floors to explore with a special smoking area on the side. It’s an awesome space with a great sound and aura to it but I didn’t feel as carried away with The Black Angels overall performance as I did in a smaller space, such as The Grog Shop. When I saw them at the beginning of this year I felt like each member of the band really brought it together and projected a strong message with their sound and presence in a smaller space. Perhaps they played the same way at the Newport, but it was distracting to be in such a cool giant venue that it took the significance away. Their music was more of a ghost in the shadows rather than a full head on collision with the madness. It was an absurdly cheap show sponsored by the local Columbus alternative radio station, 102.5 FM, in which is awesome!!!…but, this may have attracted a lot of randomers on such a grey and rainy Wednesday night in Ohio that may not have been as into it (as a smaller, more intimate crowd would have been). As far as the other two bands…the reviews that I had read on Spindrift from L.A. described the band as a lot more surreal than I got from listening to them. I was ready to be taken to the desert, trip on peyote, and meet Jim Morrison with the review that I read prior to the show. There was a short build up of trendy stage-outfits chanting with their instruments and a chick going crazy with the rattling of the tambourine, but other than that, they make soundtrack music for their own independent films. Without the Quentin Tarantino film playing in front of me I cannot see them making it too far musically. Last but not least, Dead Meadow, from D.C…they played second. They are not easy to disappoint. With a stoner rock-like trance that meanders from the likes of 90’s The Jesus and The Mary Chain to The Meat Puppets…it gets trippier and louder, with more fuzz! And after all the psychedelic talk, they are probably the only band with weed. The last time that I saw them at the Beachland I felt like I wanted to fall asleep, but this time, they actually added a nice ambiance to the night with enough static to keep you alive for the finally. Even if the finally wasn’t as intense as you dreamed it to be.