The first and only time I saw The Black Lips live was ten years ago. I was invited to the show at the last minute after playing a round of Edward Fortyhands with Labatt 8.1% beer. I did not accomplish this same feat ten years later, but I recommend it to you. It’s perhaps the best way to experience what The Black Lips have to offer. Among the craziness that went down at the show, I was witness to: a song about bedbugs and romance; a guitarist wearing a baby gap shirt; another guitar player rolling around on the stage like a tumbleweed; a couple of girls, on their knees, looking at a guys dick piercing in the men’s bathroom; and a guy jumping on stage and smashing a beer bottle over his head. He was wearing a baseball cap, so safety first, I guess.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Onward to the actual review.
Surfbort hit the stage to a less-than-packed house. In fact, they we offering discount ticket prices at the door, due to the crowd size. They still played a helluva show. Singer Dani Miller strutted around the stage like Mick Jagger, if Jagger had swagger. I’m telling you, she put that man to shame. The rest of the band hammered out their brand of nasty, eardrum-puncturing punk. While they were tight and on point and kept the crowd on their toes, I wasn’t a fan of their sound, sadly. The treble reverberated around the room and at times, when a particularly high scream was belted out, I felt my head on the verge of exploding. If you’re going to see these cats live, do yourselves a favour and bring some ear plugs.
I must make an aside here. I don’t know when it happened, but after crawling my way up front for the headliners, I looked behind me and saw a venue at near capacity. So, good job everybody who eventually made it out. Anyway, back to the review.
The banner for The Black Lips looked like a giant sheet someone had attacked and stenciled the band’s name on with the world’s largest sharpie. It was well-suited for their brat-attack brand of sloppy-surf-punk-rock. It was self induced chaos. Me, and the entire crowd, absolutely loved it. The floor, which hadn’t moved much during the first band, exploded into a bouncing, frothing, undulating organism. We were all jazzed as bassist Jared Swilley took the mic to open the night’s vocals. Everything about his performance was on point, including his moustache game.
The crowd hummed and thrummed along with the band as they blasted through “Family Tree,” “Dirty Hands,” and “O, Katrina!” The pit was a mix of moshing and just straight-up shucking and jiving; each individual was giving all their love to the band, while the band gyrated it right back at us. I was very close to guitarist Jack Hines, who often walked towards us, on his knees, shredding succulent solos of the face-melting variety. His treble was turned up to eleven that night. I was even able to touch his butt when he fell back onto the crowd at the conclusion of their set; luckily, he wasn’t dropped, but was able to rise back to the stage like Lazarus.
All in all, this show was an incredible experience. The Black Lips didn’t pull any of their “known-for” crazy antics. This show was all about them, their instruments, and a give-and-take with the crowd. It was enough for me and everyone else there. And trust me when I say this, it would have been enough for you.
Was your Black Lips experience better than mine? Get at me in the comments below and tell me all about it.
Written by Aaron Deck
Photography by Danny Donovan
*edited by Kate Erickson