Black Mountain Malkin Bowl, Vancouver BC, June 6

Black Mountain Malkin Bowl, Vancouver BC, June 6
Photo: Amy Ray
One could hardly choose a more perfect setting for Black Mountain's first Vancouver show since 2012 than Levitation. This festival was practically made for them, coinciding with the tenth anniversary of their massive self-titled debut, which they immediately honoured with a blistering take on "Don't Run Our Hearts Around." Apparent from this first track, the Black Mountain Army has consolidated its power for another run at usurping the psychedelic rock establishment.
They followed up their eponymous debut tribute with spirited renditions of "No Satisfaction," "Set Us Free," and "No Hits," alongside "Tyrants" and "Wucan" from their best-selling 2008 record In the Future, and nothing from the rather lukewarm Wilderness Heart. Most notably, though, were two new tracks, the rolling late '70s rocker "Defector" and the slow-burning epic "Mothers of the Sun." The band had a righteous focus in these fresh cuts, and throughout the set.
Stephen McBean theatrically teasing out his stadium-sized melodies on guitar, staggering back and forth under their immensity. Bassist Jonny Ollsin and Joshua Wells had the rhythms locked down, with Wells making that tortured face drummers get when they truly commit, and tweaking a Korg on the side. [Ed's note: an earlier version of this review misidentified the bassist.] Jeremy Schmidt worked his atmospheric synth alchemy next to Amber Webber, who played around with various handheld percussion while adding her critical vibrato to their vocal interplay. They weren't necessarily the most animated performers, but they had their sound dialled in, going on an extended jam in an 11-minute version of "No Hits" then nailing the landing. Judging from the strength of their new works and their overall conviction, Black Mountain is about to rise again, up to its greatest height yet.