Warlocks and Black Angels Transform Southpaw Into A Valley of Death

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Just as I was heading out to Park Slope, the sky turned its deepest shade of black and opened up with a terrible burst of rain, soaking me head to toe, despite the protection of an umbrella. After a good 45 minutes traveling underground, I emerged into the light of day once again. The rain had stopped and the sky had cleared.

After a scrumptious dinner with a friend at old-school Italian joint, Aunt Susie's, we headed over to Southpaw, where all the sunshine and happiness was mercilessly sucked away. The storm clouds, returning in the forms of The Warlocks and The Black Angels rained heavily upon us with a gloomy hypnotic drone.

As if creating the soundtrack for a dungeon overflowing in drug-induced death and decay, The Warlocks sludged through a spellbinding set, looking nearly comatose on stage. Unable to deal with even a little bit of light, frontman Bobby Hecksher continuously asked for the club to dim the lights more and more until the stage was practically black. Though they looked as though they were propped up, and disoriented by an overload of narcotics, they were still able to make it through an entire set. Focusing primarily on the highly underrated 2007 release "Heavy Deavy Skull Lover" and 2005's "Surgery," the Los Angeles 6-peice often sounded as though they were riding the same hypnotic 2 chord riff over and over with a little bit of variation. Maybe it was the contact high we were getting from just being in the same room as The Warlocks, but they were pretty great.

If The Warlocks were creating the soundtrack for a dungeon, then The Black Angels belong lurking through the deepest swamps of Vietnam, watching as snipers relentlessly take men down. Fittingly, that's pretty much exactly what the imagery of their lyrics conjure up, with songs like "Bloodhounds on My Trail" and "Snipers at the Gates of Heaven." Opening with "Manipulation," possibly the best track off of their critically claimed debut "Passover," they began to drag us through the trenches, like a wounded soldier being brought to the pile of dead warriors. The pace was slow, feeling every inch, with guitar shrapnel shredding our skin. Onto a screen behind the Texas 5-peice, movie clips and psychedelic imagery were proected, adding to the already haunting atmosphere engulfing the room. The new material off of "Directions to See a Ghost" fit in perfectly with the songs from "Passover." Surprisingly, the lack of former keyboardist Jennifer Raines did not really hurt their sound at all, as they sounded just as good if not better than the last 2 times I had seen them.

After feeling like I had been given a shot of opium, locked in a dungeon, and dragged through the trenches of war, I felt lucky to still be alive. Seeing these bands live is an experience that is far superior to what they deliver on record. Just don't go expecting the sunshine happiness of a Hot Chip concert.

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