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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Roky Erickson and the Black Angels- El Ray Theater, Los Angeles 10-31-08

I saw Roky Erickson and the Black Angels at the El Ray Theater in Los Angeles on Halloween. My business partner and I drove from Phoenix and met my brother (from Las Vegas) in LA. We checked into the Dunes Hotel and then went to eat at the famous Canter's Deli. This is the very same deli that groups like the Byrds and Mothers used to frequent. The Jewish food was to die for and brought me right back to New York. See a picture of Canter's to the left of this text.

After dinner, we went to the El Ray Theater. I brought along two Avalon Ballroom "Spaceman" posters for Roky to sign. One is an actual "Bindweed Press" version that was used to promote the gig back in 1966. Both of these posters were signed by EVERYBODY (alive) in the 13th Floor Elevators including Powell St. John and Danny Thomas. So to get Roky's signature with all the others was essential.

We went into the El Ray Theater and it was really decked out for a party. This was LA on Halloween night and this WAS a Roky Erickson show. People were dressed up as cops, tigers, mummy's, zombies, everything... The theater was a big room with a stage at one end and a small balcony. There was a huge dance floor.

The Black Angels came on first and they were great. I don't know who is talking sheeeeeeit about this band but they were really good. They reminded me of early Mothers of Invention, or Velvet Underground, bootlegs. It was heavy rythym and percussion (hypnotic) and then they would get some cool fuzz-tone jamming going. The singer needs to express himself more clearly as he tended to mumble the words but that's a quibble.

The Black Angels also would exchange instruments between songs. This was cool and reminded me of seeing The Band numerous times years ago. Danko, Helm, Hudson and the rest would trade off instruments to get a "different" sound for certain songs.

The Black Angel's Drummer was a delight. She, literally, pounded the crap out of her kit. She is a real power drummer and I enjoyed watching her perform. At times, the Bassist would also hit an upright snare.

This band also played the vintage instruments. It was great to see that. It gave this music a real authentic feel. It was very organic sounding. See a picture of the Black Angels to the left of this text. The Black Angels eventually went off stage and there was a 45 minute break.

Around 11:00 pm, the band came back on and began playing Bo Diddley's a Headhunter. They got that cool riff going and then Roky walked out. The crowd went wild! Then THAT voice started singing! It was pandimonium! This crowd was lit up on every drug imaginable, lots of alcohol and completely into it. This was followed by Two Headed Dog! The crowd went wild! They were singing and swaying, drunkenly, on the dance floor.

Everything became a blur; I was having a good time. I stood there with my brother and business partner and just soaked it in. They did I Walked with a Zombie, Night of the Vampire, all that! The guy next to me was taping the show so....

Then, the singer of the Black Angels broke out the jug! They did Splash 1 and You're Gonna Miss Me! It was amazing! Later on, the band broke out more 13th Floor Elevators material. When they did Roller Coaster the crowd surged forward flipping out. They were screaming the lyrics and swaying around. It was something else.

Finally, the show ended and the singer from the Black Angels came down. I met him and we spoke. I told him that his band was waaaaaaay better than the Explosives! The Explosives are too polished. They sound like what they are: an Eighties new wave band. The Black Angels are perfect for Roky. They have that organic, fuzzed out, garage sound. The singer looked relieved and thankful. He acknowledged the mediocore reviews and said that they bothered him because Roky is such and influence on him. I told him to forget about the reviews. He then took my posters backstage for Roky to sign. He's such a cool guy.

We went back to the Dunes and then to Canter's for a nightcap. Guess WHO we ran into there? ROKY ERICKSON & HIS WIFE DANA! We spoke for about ten minutes. Roky was really cool. He was alert, happy and engaged in the conversation. I told him about preferring the Black Angels to the Explosives and Dana said that *they* liked the Black Angels a lot too. Here's a picture of Roky and I below:

It was the PERFECT ending to a fantastic evening.

The next morning we met, former Roky Erickson Guitarist and Producer, Mike Alvarez at Canter's for breakfast. Mike was just back from surfing. It must be nice. I've known Mike for 10+ years through the Internet but this was the first time that we met. He's really cool! See a picture of Mike Alvarez and I below here:

After hanging out with Mike, we went to Venice Beach. That was cool to see all the artists and surfers. It's a long boardwalk that's lined with artists and surfers. Check it out:

This was a truely great weekend. Go see this band! BTW, Roky DIGS the Roky Erickson CD Club!

1 comment:

Pinko Punko said...

I love love love the Black Angels, and caught one of their shows with Roky in SF, and I thought they did a great job for him. I know some people want a cleaner Texas boogie sound for him, but the fuzzed out stuff works much better. They were a great fit.