A Sound in Need of a Bigger Room

June 8th, 2009

Pink Mountaintops – Mercury Lounge – June 6, 2009

Pink Mountaintops - Mercury Lounge - June 6, 2009

Pink Mountaintops, singer-songwriter-guitarist Stephen McBean’s offshoot of Black Mountain, is touring behind its recently released third album, Outside Love. The band’s show at Mercury Lounge on Saturday night began with McBean’s soulful acoustic take on “Comas.” So it seemed for about three minutes that it would be a night of quiet music. But the following song, “Axis: Thrones of Love,” was a room-rattler from the get-go. And from there, the music swung between songs filled with lovely harmonies and airy crescendos, like “Closer to Heaven,” and hard-driving rockers, like “The Gayest of Sunbeams.”

In between, the music was spacey and sweeping, but it was always interesting. There was full-on guitar rock followed by heavy rhythm-section-driven tunes. At times there were five singers, sometimes singing as one and at other times in harmony. Pink Mountaintop’s big sound—two guitars, bass, drums, fiddle and keys with some percussion thrown in every now and then—easily filled the place. Hopefully the next time the Vancouver, B.C., six-piece returns to NYC it will be to play The Bowery Ballroom because their sound is worthy of a bigger room. McBean’s passion for his music is obvious, but his stage presence is quite reserved. He didn’t say much more than “thanks for coming” and “take care” to the audience. Instead he let the music speak for itself. —R. Zizmor

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood |