Pink Mountaintops

support Caved Crow
author BV date 09/09/14 venue Loppen, Copenhagen, DEN

For quite some time now, I’ve had a desire to experience either one of Stephen McBean’s bands live again. Having stumbled upon Black Mountain sometime in 2009, only to experience them live sometime around 2011, I’ve been having severe withdrawal symptoms ever since. Throughout the lack of Black Mountain activity around these parts, I casually let myself fall slightly in love with the musical efforts of McBean in his other outfit – Pink Mountaintops – finally resulting in a long-awaited live-fix of McBean’s musical endeavours on this very night.

All photos courtesy of: Philip B. Hansen / philipbh.com

Caved Crow

The support band of the night was one that, to be entirely honest, had me quite skeptical before leaving my home. - Mostly due to the genre-tags ‘melancholic pop’ and ‘alternative folk’ which, in my humble experience, tend to go 50/50 on the success-rate in the live setting. From the first note, however, Caved Crow had managed to pique my interest with the use of an acoustic guitar, a resonator guitar, percussion and a pair of vocals that could deliver the melancholic sounds with a grace I rarely hear in this particular sonic spectrum. In spite of a few initial fall-outs in sound, Caved Crow had a significant portion of the crowd enthralled by their musical prowess and the hypnotic drones of their acoustic soundscapes. As their brief set was about to end, the band introduced their final track of the night – “Two-faced Man” – and launched into what could possibly be labeled their highlight of the evening, as well as the final drop needed for me to interested enough to keep an eye (and an ear) out for their music in the coming times. The meld of a hugely active percussionist, acoustic guitar-work and the male/female vocal combination was nothing innovative – far from it – but it was nonetheless delivered with graceful prowess that bodes well for their future live performances. I was intrigued, to say the least.

7

Pink Mountaintops

Following a very brief changeover the stage was set for an outlet of pure rock n’ roll in the form of Pink Mountaintops. Initially coming off as overtly anonymous on stage, their presence was manifested in a grandiose manner when the first notes of “Leslie” rang through the venue as a subtle battle cry, summoning the scarce but dedicated crowd members to the front of the stage to get their dosage of riffing. Albeit the set started in a relatively slow-paced manner, there was no doubt about the intents and purposes of the show as the stage oozed of near-classic rock n’ roll attitude when the time came around for short lead-lines or drawn out semi-psychedelic fuzz-guitar assaults. Through tracks like “Sixteen” and “Wheels” – both from the newest album, “Get Back”, Pink Mountaintops manifested one of their greatest strengths – the live setting. In spite of my relatively ambivalent stance towards much of the material from “Get Back”, I was positively surprised to hear these songs flourish and grow to something bigger and greater in the live-setting – where it is, quite sadly, often the other way around with grandiose tracks being shaven down to hollow shells of their studio versions.

By delivering my favorite track off the new album, “The Second Summer of Love”, early on in the set, I had initially feared that it would be the definitive highlight of the evening - effectively leaving the remainder of the set to fall apart slowly. However, mere seconds into the following song, “Plastic Man, You’re the Devil” I was proven hugely wrong. In an excess of energy and in surprisingly youthful spirit, the band worked their way through a variety of songs like “While We Were Dreaming”, “Ambulance City” and “Sweet ‘69” – with the latter two showcasing extended jamming and surprisingly effective vocal work by Stephen McBean and Ashley Webber. However, it seems wrong to only emphasize the vocal work here, as the collective rhythmical drive was delivered with a playful sense of tightness that made the otherwise monotony-bordering “Ambulance City” a vibrant and surprisingly lively jam with plenty of bass grooves, forceful drum-pounding and fuzzy walls of guitar, courtesy of Steve Kille, Dustin White and Florian Schanze.

By not partaking in excessive talking on stage, Pink Mountaintops were essentially gambling on their stage presence, albeit to great success. Some bands need the talking to connect to audiences, whilst others do so best via the sheer effect of the songs. As the evening progressed, however, it would seem that the connection between audience and crowd was alive and well in spite of a mere utterance of 12 words or so, over the course of an hour. With “Last Dance”, Pink Mountaintops engaged themselves in a highly extended jam that was obviously meant to top off the evening before rounding off the set for good. However, the scarce but heavily dedicated crowd would have none of it and cheered for the headliners of tonight to return – as they subsequently did, by playing stunning renditions of “Vampire” and “Sell Your Soul” to a crowd that was overjoyed ‘till the end. It’s rare to experience that kind of joy in smaller crowds these days, but as far as Pink Mountaintops’ gig of the night goes, I’d say any other reaction would be highly misplaced. – Perhaps this experience can stave off my cravings for a while but in any case I hope it won’t be too long before either Pink Mountaintops or Black Mountain returns.

Setlist:

  • 1. Leslie
  • 2. Sixteen
  • 3. Wheels
  • 4. Through All the Worry
  • 5. The Second Summer of Love
  • 6. Plastic Man, You’re the Devil
  • 7. While We Were Dreaming
  • 8. Ambulance City
  • 9. Sweet ‘69
  • 10. Tourist in Your Town
  • 11. Shakedown
  • 12. Last Dance

--Encore--

  • 13. Vampire
  • 14. Sell Your Soul

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