When hundreds of pudgy, unshaven, but ultimately clean-cut dudes (read: college kids) join dozens of grown folks who rarely go out on a Tuesday night, to stand close to the stage and pump fists, it’s a sign: There is a massive hunger for indie rock in Central Arkansas. Of course, that opens up a semantic pitfall. Black Mountain, from Vancouver, Canada, is decidedly not an indie rock band. Their music is highly derivative of late ’60s and ’70s psychedelic and prog rock, though, almost magically, in a way that never sounds tiresome or redundant. Black Mountain and Tuesday’s opener Bon Iver are, however, part of the progressive music zeitgeist that lives on mp3 blogs and Pitchfork and album leaks. This is the pop cultural milk of a liberal arts education or a weirdo genre-mix-up on KABF.
The problem is, of course, that bands of Black Mountain’s ilk do play here, all the time, just usually way before they’ve made it big in the underground. Bringing a band in full-on buzz mode can be a perilous prospect for local bookers. Revolution hosted Texas’ Okervil River on a weeknight and few showed. The gist, in twofold: Give a try to some of the up-and-comers, and you’re sure to be rewarded; and lobby the dudes booking music in town. You can find e-mail addresses for Chris King, who runs Sticky Fingerz and Revolution, Erin Hurley, who books Juanita’s, Vino’s and the Village and Matt White, who books White Water on their respective sites. I can promise you, if any of them get enough e-mails about a certain act, they’re going to do whatever they can to book ’em.
My rant has taken away from review space, so I’ll keep it short. Bon Iver, in the second opening slot, delivered haunting atmospherics and three-part harmonies that nearly silenced the crowd. Black Mountain’s churn, even with all the Moog workouts and epic guitar solos, never got noodle-y. They always managed to keep the audience in the groove. Amber Webber’s vocals were Grace Slick-ish. An enthusiastic crowd seemed to press the band into a longer encore than normal, with one of the members repeating, incredulously, “On a Tuesday?” Here’s to hoping Black Mountain will remember the show when plotting their next tour.