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Black Mountain Scale New Heights


A lunar eclipse watched over Black Mountain and Bon Iver‘s sold-out show at Johnny Brenda’s in Philadelphia last night (Feb. 20). The three members of Bon Iver, sitting above the tangle of cords, keyboard, and effects pedals of the headlining group, coaxed big sounds from their humble set of tunes driven by their debut LP, For Emma, Forever Ago. During the wintry layers of “The Wolves,” the audience became a part of the performance as the packed and sweaty crowd sang along the chant of “what might have been” as songsmith Justin Vernon and Co. brought it to a chaotic climax.

Bon Iver might seem like an odd pairing at first, but their songs, though differing melodically and in texture, march through the same forests as Black Mountain, with long, multipart songs. The Vancouver-based neo-prog collective may seem possessed by many of heavy rock’s rambling men and devil women, but they make old sounds seem new — not by updating them, but by playing them with passion and precision. Singer Amber Webber sounded as though she was conjuring up spirits during comedown song “Angels,” and bandleader Stephen McBean drove them back away with his interplay of riffing and soloing on the eight minute “Tyrants.” “Wucan” came off like stripper pole music for Middle Earth, and the epic “Bring Lights” went through more changes than most bands do in their entire recorded output. Black Mountain may look like ’70s rock fans, but last night they sounded like ’70s rock gods.

We asked: Black Mountain’s new album is called In The Future. What are your predictions for the future?