Howlin’ Rain @ Hammerstein Ballroom

Howlin' RainNEW YORK, NY—The glistening aura surrounding New York City becomes blinding in the reflection of a mucky evening filled with rain and a biting cold spell that swept through the Hudson River Valley. As the lights fell on Tuesday, Oct. 28, the inner confines of Hammerstein Ballroom was no shelter from the moans and groans of Howlin’ Rain.

The band strolled back to the East Coast in support of the Black Crowes who were deep into the American legs of their Euphoria Or Bust tour. Spearheaded by Ethan Miller, the Oakland, California, psychedelic outfit detonated into the spotlight with the fervor of the combusting cosmos. The tonal bending, of distortion and feedback, were harnessed at the hip of Miller in the form of face-melting guitar thrusts. Smoke filled the rafters behind the stage to accent the cool swoop of yellow, red, and purple lighting. With Miller’s back arched—and overgrown beard flowing in the freak flag wind—the outfit launched into the stiff-riffed “Dancers At The End Of Time.”

The set list focused on numbers from the band’s sophomore effort, Magnificent Fiend (2008), which sports mastering contributions from Rick Rubin and distribution duties from Columbia Records.

Alongside Joel Robinow (keys), Ian Gradek (bass), and Mike Jackson (drums), Ethan Miller, with a flower-printed collared button down loosely tucked into his jeans, unleashed the demons of rock’s underground decadence. Mustache riding rhythms, Northern California Earth vibe soul, and outlaw rock ‘n’ roll all combined together to create musical bliss.

Things mellowed out in the acid trip rollercoaster for Magnificent Fiend’s most soulful number, “Lord Have Mercy.” Building vocal progressions from Ethan Miller pushed the set effortlessly along before the rambunctious nature of “Calling Lighting Part #2.” Howlin’ Rain was earning a warm reception from those in the know. After a 35-minute set and a genuinely warm, heartfelt thank you from Ethan Miller, the band walked off and night two of the Black Crowes Hammerstein Halloween run hoisted the freak flag.

Photo Credit: Eden Batki