Black Mountain have been lauded as the creators of the finest Canadian CD so far of 2005, and substantial press in such varied venues as 'Mojo' and 'Pitchfork' guaranteed a good turnout.

As I arrived at 10:30, opening band the Banditas were just packing their gear away – unreasonably early, I thought – so the first band I saw that night was the Crystal Skulls.

The group seems an unusual proposition to tour with headbenders like Black Mountain. Frontman Christian Wargo has prior experience with Christian indie pop outfits Pedro the Lion and Danielsen Famile (drummer Casey Foubert has also been part of the Pedro pride, and worked with popper Kevin Vanderslice). With bassist Yukki Matthews’ white funk rhythm and Wargo and co-guitarist Ryan Phillips Rickenbacker and Tele jangling away they seemed like a good combination of a Postcard band crossed with 1970's power pop. The band’s next tour companions are the Wedding Present, a far more suitable match (and definitely something for Present fans to look forward to).

The brainchild of Vancouver’s Stephen McBean (Jerk With a Bomb, Pink Mountaintops), the five-piece Black Mountain merges thick psychedelic sludge with fluty vocals from both McBean and percussionist/melodica player Amber Webber. The pop-Sabbath combo delivered by Queens of the Stone Age comes to mind, though the band configures the combination in its own fashion.

Black Mountain put on a wicked synapse-twisting show of their heartbreak moan meets doom dirge. Ottawa native Matt Camirand (once in Vancouver glam punks the Black Halos) laid down some meaty bass lines while McBean unleashed thick lashes of ultra-luscious distortion. Although fellow guitarist Jeremy Schmidt had to stay home, there was no shortage of guitar firepower on stage. The vocal work was full as well, since everyone in the band sings. Drummer Joshua Wells takes the MVP award by handling the sticks, singing, playing an organ to his left organ, and operating a frequency modulator (and not all at different times, either).

Their hard-hitting show left no one in doubt that the group can deliver the goods promised by their debut on stage as well – even with a missing member. In a word, fantastic.

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