Live Review: Black Heart Procession at Hi-Dive, Monday, December 12, 2011
You could say that The Black Heart Procession bears a large portion of responsibility for the sound of “indie” today, and you wouldn’t be wrong. Since the members’ initial involvement in the seminal Three Mile Pilot in the late ‘90s, they’ve been championing a slow, psychedelic-but-gruff Pink Floyd style that’s only been solidified and made more sad with their latest incarnation.
They played a long set – almost too long – at Hi-Dive last night that magnified their dour atmosphere even more, but that was satisfying nonetheless.
Black Heart Procession is now a trio – not surprising, really, considering their long history of major lineup changes – but they still make a surprisingly big sound. Accented often by a bowed saw, original members Pall Jenkins and Tobias Nathaniel tinkered with keyboards, guitars and synths to make that sound, and coupled it with impossibly sad-bastard lyrics for almost an hour. The mid-sized audience seemed as taken by the sound as I was, too, though some of the songs’ intrinsic sarcasms weren’t lost on them. I noticed as many smirks as grimaces as the show progressed in response to particularly teary lyrics.
Still, that dirge and strum failed to keep the audience entirely engaged, sadly, and many began competing with the band with loud discussions. While their style may have echoed the cold outside with characteristic desolation, it also became more of a pastime than a spectacle for a lot of the crowd before the show ended. Musically perfect, perhaps, but Black Heart Procession may just be too heavy and dark for their own good – and last night’s show wasn’t getting any lighter.