With as much talent as our fair emerald city has flowing from its side streets, it’s surprising more bands like Black Hills don’t exist. The local super group was created by Minus the Bear’s Erin Tate and David Totten of The Quiet Ones also includes Eric Sturgeon of The Lonely Forest and Matt Benham from Black Swedes. The band includes a lot of big names, and on a disgustingly rainy Friday at the Comet the band put their backs into a killer performance.
With the names involved in this band and openers like Black Whales and Prism Tats, the bill seemed almost too big for a venue the size of the Comet. But the sort of dimly lit grunge ambiance that can only find at the Pike Street venue is spot on for the vintage rock that came out of Black Hills. Celebrating the release of their new 7″ record, released on Porchlight Records, the guys played a an ear rattling set that tasted of sulfur. There’s a certain level of darkness within the walls of their verses and an ache in the vocals that feels right in the middle of a December night. The melancholy in songs like “Sterile Eyes” is countered in others that showcase all the talent and fervor that is Erin Tate behind a drum kit.
What is more impressive than the songs the band nailed or the subtle 60s inspired harmonies is that this band is a band. While it may contain members of other local bands, when the four guys on stage start to play it doesn’t feel or sound like a goofy side project or a continuation of one of their other current bands. It feels new and exciting, the way a band fresh off the release of a 7″ should sound. They’re worth getting excited over, and to hear more Sound on the Sound premiered a track from them just before Christmas, enjoy!
One of the band’s openers was Black Whales, another local band worth its weight in buzz. In terms of a bill, Black Hills and Black Whales just make complete sense back to back. Both play the sort of music that is influenced by rock of yesteryear, heavy and a little on the lyrically dark side. Some of the material is downright danceable, but they played it hard enough to jiggle your ribcage under the Comet’s red lights. “Serpent in the Water” was one of their last songs, but is a perfect example of Black Whales’ ability to be a rock band capable of shaking Seattle’s hips. We all like a good, sexy song. And songs like that with a slightly sinister sound are memorable, making us all want more. I can’t wait to hear more new material from Black Whales, but as they’re a band that comes across best live, I’m looking even more forward to hearing 2013’s new stuff worked across a venue’s sound system.