A Mind-Altering Night with SUUNS and The Black Angels

I have seen so many bands over the past couple years that it’s hard to remember them all, there are always few that really catch my attention. SUUNS is one of those bands, mostly due to the fact that they experienced so many technical difficulties during my first experience with the band  and still managed to impress and leave me wanting more. So the second I saw that SUUNS would be in Lawrence there wasn’t much that could keep me from attending the show. The best part was the added incentives of The Black Angels and L5.

When I first walked into the bar I spent most of my time getting situated and waiting for friends to return from the rape-tastically-lit parking lot of the Borders graveyard. I thought to myself, “I’ll have some time to have a beer and catch up with a few friends before SUUNS would start their set.” This thought would prove to be quickly fleeting as L5 proved to be a band that demanded attention. While the band was not the L5 that the bar’s website would suggest that didn’t mean that they were not talented. As the band played on I couldn’t help but to think how nicely these songs would fit on a Tarantino sound track. How the flowing guitar would fit nicely over witty dialog and over-the-top gore. The Lawrence native rock band with a rockabilly twist took the venue’s early arrivals by surprise and had the venue stirring with questions about the band’s origins. With iPhones blazing the crowd searched for any information that they could find, as the band pulled them in closer with their driving sound. While it may be a large task to locate the band on the internet they are definitely a group worth the effort.

The shock and awe of the new discovery was over as the band I came to see was about to take the stage. It was time to see if they were as good as I thought that they could be. The first show was just a small tease of what the band could do, and their album provided a nice addition to an already intrigued mind. All of this would prove to be an after thought when faced with how good the band was on Saturday. My expectations were not only reached they were shattered. With a knowledgeable sound guy on their side SUUNS was allowed to open up a bit and really enjoy the show. You could definitely see this written all over their faces as they felt every note,  every lyric as they let go to the moment. Songs like “Up Past the Nursery” had the growing crowd swaying to the music as “Armed For Peace” raised hands to the air. The diversity of SUUNS put together with a perfectly designed set that felt like it was just flowing with the moment.

The best part of all this was that the moment wasn’t rushed as the band was able to flow onto a climatic ending. With the band soon to be off to Europe the only negative aspect of the show was the fact that it would be awhile before I would be in the presence of the tranquil sounds of SUUNS again. I highly suggest you pick up their new album Zeroes QC just to prepare yourself for the experience that is SUUNS live. I look forward to seeing the band again with a few more people that know the lyrics.

While SUUNS was the highlight of my night that’s not to say that this perfectly rounded bill was lacking a talented headliner. The Black Angels was a band that I had been looking forward to seeing for a while. Their psychedelic sound is one that has the possibilities of heightened enjoyment. While I wasn’t in on this enlightened pro tip the freeing movements of the flowing dance moves in front of me were screaming that this was no secret. The band colorfully lit by a plethora of projected colors would only remind you of a better time for music. While you could easily pigeonhole The Black Angels as another band attempting to recreate the sound of the 70’s, you would be really limiting yourself to the band’s full potential. Sure at times vocalist  Alex Maas could give you that Morission feeling but to say that the band sounded like anything else but The Black Angels would just be naive.

Songs like “Haunting at 1300 McKinley” have a way of sticking with you, echoing through your mind as you sway to the music. You just have to let go and find yourself in their music. No one in the near capacity crowd was having a problem with this. The mesh of people had become a giant flowing wave as the sea of sound pushed them back and forth. In this moment it felt like the bar was the center of the universe and everything else just seemed to disappear, but like most good things they don’t last forever.

The near perfect line up would now be going their separate ways, SUUNS off to Europe, The Black Angels to another city, and L5 back home to reminisce on a night well played. It’s hard to say that I’ve seen a bill that fit so well together as the show Saturday. This could be a testament to the booking agent at The Bottleneck or it could just be one of those times where everything lines up just right and opens up to a perfect moment. If you get the chance to see any of these bands you should do so, individually they will not disappoint. To those of us that saw them all together it’s definitely a memory that will last for a while.

by Ryan Davis

About Ryan Davis

Ryan is the Founder of Lost in Reviews, a member of The Kansas City Film Critic's Circle, and a key component in the movement to digitally restore the 1986 classic film The Gate. Ryan is also the co-host of Blu Monday a DVD and Blu Ray review show which Lost in Reviews co-founder Angela Davis also appears. While he may be a film and music snob, that doesn't mean you can't be friends. Well it could if you don't like the same bands or films he does, overall it might be best to avoid the subject all together.

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