Black Mountain + Jesse Sykes and The Sweet Hereafter at Bowery Ballroom

Post Author: , Jesse Untracht-Oakner

Battling the head cold that seems to have gripped most of New York, I felt that the obscene amount of cough syrup I chugged would only benefit my experience of seeing the band that I have routinely claimed were my “favorite band in the world,” Black Mountain.

Really I was hoping in my state to have some Lester Bangsian “Last Night I saw God and or Tangerine Dream” scenario take over the evening but in truth the night (fueled not only by the Robitussin but two Makers on the rocks) served to shore up old ideas on the headliner and helped gain a new perspective into the opening act, Jesse Sykes and The Sweet Hereafter.

Sykes and Co. were mesmerizing. She is a commanding femme fatale. The heir apparent to Neil Young’s sad and damaged croon who can go from being like a Nashville reject fronting Mazzy Star to a vocalist on collaborations between Sunn 0))) and Boris.

I am going to go out on a serious limb here, but after finally witnessing her live, is one of the (if not the) finest front woman in rock n’ roll.

The only possible follow up to a performance like Sykes was the aforementioned Black Mountain. As soon as the Vancouver, British Columbia troupe took the stage, everything became about synths, hair and effects.

The band quickly dove into songs off their most recent album In the Future. Stopping for a moment in between songs to dedicate a song to label mate and Brooklyn fixture Kid Millions of Oneida fame the band then turned to the song “Set us Free” off their 2005 debut album, it was then I began to realize the strange mix of fans in the crowd. Some of them maybe gained through the bands tour with Cold War Kids, other through reviews that the act on the stage was the second coming of Pink Floyd, Zeppelin and King Crimson all rolled into one.

Whatever their reason, in my near state of hallucination brought on by the mix of booze, over the counter medication and pot smoke in the air (yes you heard me right. People were openly smoking weed at Bowery Ballroom) I realized that this is exactly what Stephen McBean and the rest of his fuzzy pals have set out to do. Bring together the sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, waistoids, dweebies, (and the) dickheads (to steal a phrase from Ed Rooneys secretary).