Black Mountain/Birds of Avalon/Nordic Nomadic; March 23, 2008; High Noon Saloon
It is strange for me to see a show that I am completely ambivalent about. Usually I love it (most of the time) or am disappointed in something I expected to love. I didn’t expect to love Black Mountain the first time I saw them, I went based on the recommendations of friends and the Onion. I recall being amused by Ladyhawk who said they “would totally party with us,” and thinking that middle band Blood Meridian was my favorite of the night, but I don’t remember much about Black Mountain.
I do know there certainly weren’t near as many people as were here tonight. Almost 300 people (290 according to the door guy) were on hand for this show on Easter Sunday. That would be a good crowd on a weekend, for a Sunday it was pretty damn impressive. It isn’t surprising that there wasn’t anything memorable about the show, because once again I can’t come up with any details about Black Mountain’s set. There was no witty banter or stand-out tune, just a good show by a tight band. In fact the only truly noteworthy feature was the distinctive vibrato of vocalist Amber Webber who I couldn’t decide whether to love or loathe.
The honor of being my favorite act of the night went to opener Nordic Nomadic. His spare and haunting songs brought to mind Neil Young’s mellower stuff and also local band A Catapult Western to whom I mad a similar comparison. Unfortunately I got there late and missed half of his short opening set. I had high hopes for the Birds of Avalon from what I had read about them sounded like my thing, and it seems I always like bands with birds in the name (Lesser Birds of Paradise, the Wrens). I guess I forgot about the Bower Birds who had bored me to tears opening for the Mountain Goats. Birds of Avalon certainly weren’t boring, they had energy to spare. There was more action from lead singer Craig Tilley’s curls than there had been in the opener’s whole set, but it all seemed so generic and unoriginal. Some people say that there is no original music anymore, that it has all been done before, the Birds apparently believe that.