Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Live Review: The Black Lips 3/9/09 Bowery Ballroom, NYC

Remember in College when you looked forward to a big event like an 80-keg pig roast or a 21st birthday at a friend’s house in Westchester and repeatedly promised anyone that would listen that you’d singlehandedly drink the joint dry, smash everything in sight, fall into a tiger pit, bleed on the back seat of your car and get caught naked in your friend’s shrubberies?  

This is how the Black Lips roll on a nightly basis, even when they tour India.  It’s hard to claim that these antics are not a part of their attraction, but the reality is that I was hoping to not have to deal with flying drops of urine, and in this way, the night was a success.  In truth, I didn’t go out at 11pm on a Monday night to see how they can top their debauched antics from the Mercury Lounge; I went to see a grimy, energetic, garage rock show and these clowns from Hotlanta delivered.

The Black Lips call their sound “flower punk”, which is really just a more playful way of describing their debauched, lo-fi, early Kinks-style garage rock.  Whatever the case, their loose sound makes for a fantastic live show, complete with crowd surfing guitar solos, Keith Moon-style drums, a bass player that rocks a full grill of gold teeth and a guitarist that is dressed like a Mexican peasant with a giant Amish-style pilgrim hat.

Even though we were spared the whizzing in the mouths and penis-playing antics of past shows, and they didn’t have to flee the country as a result of their on stage provocations, you do expect their brand of punk rock to spawn a wild scene, and true to form, people generally jumped around like crazy throughout their set.

How was the music, you ask?  They actually only played for a little over an hour and part of that hour was spent trying to tune their guitars, though they did apologize for the multiple delays (“Sorry about this.  The reality is that only two of us graduated from high school.  We’re still making a living, though…”).  When they got going, the songs were wild and full of energy and full-tilt rocking.  A Black Lips show is just a really good time in general – the hooks are dirty but catchy and the songs themselves are all enjoyable on a bunch of different levels.  Antics and live gimmicks aside, I actually really like their past two albums, so it was great to see those songs played live.  If these guys had played for an hour and a half on a Friday or Saturday night, I could see that show registering up there in the pantheon of Awesome.  On this past Monday night in March, it was pretty damn enjoyable, even though it fell short of being completely fucking awesome. 

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