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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 1:26 am | Fair 46º


Jeff Moehlis: Black Mountain and Two Gallants at SOhO

Bands bring hard rock and punk-informed folk songs to town

While Santa Barbara has been blessed as of late with a number of “legacy artists” visiting town, those willing to take a bit of a chance can also enjoy great live music coming from a younger generation. Such was the case last Friday night at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club.

After a cool opening set by Toronto-based rockers Quest for Fire, Black Mountain showed themselves to be modern-day purveyors of heavy rock, complete with mammoth guitar (Stephen McBean), vintage synth sounds (Jeremy Schmidt), pulsing bass (Matt Camirand), frenetic drums (Joshua Wells) and powerful vocals (Amber Webber and McBean).

Their songs hinted at times at some of the best bands of yesteryear, including Natch and Black Sabbath, plus a touch of Led Zeppelin, “Echoes”-esque Pink Floyd and even some early King Crimson. Many songs varied in tempo and dynamics, and all were executed in delightfully heavy fashion.

The setlist touched on all three of the band’s main albums, including “Don’t Run Our Hearts Around” from their 2005 self-titled release, “Tyrants” from 2008’s Into The Future and “Old Fangs,” “Buried by the Blues” and the title track from 2010’s Wilderness Heart.

These guys (and gal) really know how to rock out, loudly carrying the torch that was lit before most of the audience (and perhaps some of the band) were even born. I may be a relatively new traveler to Black Mountain, but I know that I’ll be back.

Two Gallants, seen performing in Paris in 2007, brought a mix of new and older songs to the SOhO Restaurant & Music Club on Friday night. (Wikipedia photo)
Two Gallants, seen performing in Paris in 2007, brought a mix of new and older songs to the SOhO Restaurant & Music Club on Friday night. (Wikipedia photo)

Last on the program was the power duo Two Gallants, consisting of Adam Stephens on guitar/lead vocals/harmonica and Tyson Vogel on drums/vocals. Stephens and Vogel are back together in force after a falling out several years ago, and have just released their first record in five years called The Bloom and the Blight.

While the new songs were too new to be known to the SOhO crowd, they clearly fit well into their punk-informed folk oeuvre, often swinging wildly in intensity several times within the same song.

Several of the band’s older songs elicited particularly enthusiastic sing-alongs from the crowd, such as “Despite What You’ve Been Told,” “Steady Rollin’,” “Las Cruces Jail” and “My Madonna.”

Speaking of the crowd, most were a joy to share the evening with, but a few bad apples left a bad taste. People, if you want to talk to your friends, don’t do it so loudly that it distracts the people who came to hear the music. And if you want to waste your beer, dump it on your own head instead of spraying it into the unsuspecting crowd. Finally, it’s common courtesy to only jump into people who want to be jumped into.

But even a few bad apples couldn’t spoil a fun evening that served as a welcome reminder that the history of rock ‘n’ roll is still being written.

Noozhawk contributing writer Jeff Moehlis is a professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his Web site, music-illuminati.com.

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