Friday Night: Black Mountain At Neumos

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After seeing Black Mountain (photo credit: Jessica Miller) for the first time on Friday, I've decided that their music is of the sort that is best heard outdoors, played through mammoth speakers, in a field where you can smoke as many joints as you want and there's ample space for dancing. Alas, the band is not yet big enough to pack out the Gorge, and it's still basically winter, so Neumos had to do. The place was packed with bloodshot people and reeked--reeked--of Mary Jane's sweet perfume. Annoyed security guards stalked the premises, trying to find the source, but the aroma had thoroughly permeated the place, so I can't imagine they had much success. By the time we got to the venue, Black Mountain was about to go on, and there was no hope of seeing much from the middle of the room. It's why the bigger shows at Neumos can be problematic: unless you manage to show up early enough to get within ten feet of the stage, there's no "seeing" much of anything at all if you happen to be 5'4. Which is why I don't get why, even if you can't see a damn thing, people will subject themselves to sardine treatment when there's somewhere to sit down. Concert logic, as far as I can see it, isn't much logic at all.

Which is why, after a few songs, I got impatient and decided that I may as well sit upstairs and listen, since there wasn't much room for dancing and (as I said), I couldn't even see the tops of the band's heads. And seeing didn't seem to be the point, either, since the lighting was really low pretty much the whole time; it seemed to suggest that the main attraction here was the music, not the people playing it. In person, Black Mountain's psychedelia was as spectacularly fuzzed-out as on the band's records; problem was, the sound system at Neumos couldn't quite handle the lowest of the bass, and it buzzed. The buzz blended in well enough with the rest of the reverb and fuzz, but the whole thing sort of contributed to my desire to see the band somewhere with a truly exceptional sound system, in an outdoor setting where they can blast that shit as loud as they feel like.

I've also noticed that after ten years of going to shows without earplugs, my hearing has dulled. So I made it my New Year's Resolution to remember, and actually wear, the things at concerts from now on. Problem is, earplugs change the way the music sounds, and in Black Mountain's case, not for the better. Given the choice between slowly going deaf and listening to all this excellent live music muffled, I think I'm gonna have to go with the former option. That, or spring for some fancier earplugs. I really don't want to go deaf, but if the choice is between thrashing my hearing with music I love and muffling every great band I ever see...there has to be a better way. Anyone have any solutions? A brand of earplugs they swear by? I'm desperate, here.

 
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