The Black Lips get rowdy
If you had never heard of the Black Lips before and casually stumbled upon one of their records-a CD, unmarked, lying on the sidewalk-it's very possible that you could put it on and get into it (assuming you have a soft spot for riotous garage punk)-without ever even suspecting the raucousness the Lips cause live.
The Black Lips get rowdy
If you had never heard of the Black Lips before and casually stumbled upon one of their records—a CD, unmarked, lying on the sidewalk—it’s very possible that you could put it on and get into it (assuming you have a soft spot for riotous garage punk)—without ever even suspecting the raucousness the Lips cause live.
It’s not that the Atlanta, GA, self-described “flower punk” quartet’s sound is NOT suitably raucous—indeed it is. (Think brash, messy, and—surprisingly!—melodic.) It’s just that the Lips are a band whose reputation proceeds them—or rather—people come to see the Lips because they expect raucousness—and thus, raucousness is had by all, and everyone leaves happy.
And so went the Lips’ performance Saturday night at Johnny Brenda’s. The sold-out crowd screamed, flailed, and fist-pumped with glee as the Lips churned out rollicking, high-energy party tunes.
Local psych-rock foursome Far-out Fangtooth open the show with a chilling set of ‘80s-inspired nocturnal punk hits, with driving drum beats and vocals that rocket between deep and haunting (from caped percussionist Vince Alvaré) and manic and falsetto (from front man Joe Kusy.) The band itself looks almost cartoonish (clad in all-black, with gold sparkly fabric wrapped around the drums)—but quickly proves a force to be reckoned with, especially on tracks like set closer “What you need”—a fuzzy, angst-y, garage punk gem.
Omaha, NE’s Box Elders are up next, a pop-punk trio with a penchant for call-and-response and swaggering, ‘70s influences. Brothers Jeremiah and Clayton McIntyre let loose on double-neck guitar and double-neck 10-string (bass + guitar) respectively—while Dave Goldberg takes on drums, keys and dramatics—throwing his arms above his head at the end of each number aggressively, as if to physically stop himself from rocking out. A rotating light box housed inside the bass drum adds to the party.
Of course, none of this even comes CLOSE to the revelry inspired by the headliners—and indeed, from the second the Lips take the stage, the audience is alive and ferocious, rocking out like their lives depend on it. In the past, the Lips have both delighted and horrified crowds with their antics, running the gamut—through the years—from pissing to vomiting to all-out brawls—not to mention reportedly being banned from Canada. Now—fortunately—they seem to have matured a bit, and although the show is brimming with energy—there is no public urination to be seen. Thank GOD.
They start their set with “Sea of Blasphemy”, an early hit off 2005’s Let it Bloom—then rocket through an impressive 17 songs in a matter of an hour, drawing mostly from Bloom and 2007’s Good Bad Not Evil, with a small smattering of recent tracks (from 2009’s 200 Million Thousand) thrown in (puzzling at first—but perhaps after a massive tour supporting Thousand they’re eager to give it a rest.)
Live, songs are brash, rowdy and sweat-soaked—and when JB’s kills the overheads and switches on the floodlights—smoke from the fog-machine filling the air—the downstairs erupts in a frenzy of moshing and crowd-surfing. For their final number (the menacing, indulgent “Juvenile”), bassist Jared Swilley throws himself to the mercy of the crowd, riding a sea of bodies to the back of the venue as he strums his bass defiantly. The Lips leave the stage without an encore (they have a DJ gig at MarBar to get to)—and the revved-up crowd filters out reluctantly, the broken cups and puddles of beer left behind on the floor like party casualties. Chalk it up to another successful show.