Live Review: Black Lips

The filthy Atlantans host the best pool party ever. JellyNYC Pool Party, Williamsburg Waterfront, New York, Sunday, July 26

Live Review: Black Lips

Today’s show is the second Brooklyn ‘pool party’ Black Lips have played in as many summers, and it’s about as far from a Malibu barbecue as it gets. Last year at McCarren Pool they toilet paper’d the crowd and feigned shooting live chickens from a cannon onstage; right now,
at Williamsburg Waterfront, the already sweaty crowd are visibly attempting to save their energy for the raucous Atlantans as
they wilt in the intense heat and humidity.

The new location of the JellyNYC Pool Parties feels more conducive to the overall punk rock manifesto of bands like Black Lips and …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead (today’s headliners). It feels like a guerrilla-style party, with a stage set up on a kind of concrete no man’s land among myriad half-built condo buildings, some of which have stood unfinished for months now, thanks to the dried up funds of a strapped economy.
From pissing on one another to nudity, Black Lips shows now have a certain level of expectation and they’re barely onstage a couple of minutes when the stage invasions begin. Such storming is standard now and security’s attempts to hold back the masses are fruitless. Guys in torn shorts and mini-skirted skinny girls rush the stage to punk-bop along to ‘Take My Heart’ and the garage girl-group beat of ‘Drugs’, before diving back into the moshpit. Shangri-Las tribute ‘Dirty Hands’ sounds crisper here than on the original recording and, despite the chaos that surrounds the band throughout the whole show, it’s the musicians themselves who have morphed into the calm eye of the storm.

While the frenzied fans climb all over each other like maggots, the band bang out live favourites like ‘O Katrina’ and ‘Bad Kids’ in
a far less ramshackle way than before, but are as rawly rambunctious as ever. Massive grey storm clouds are rapidly making their way over Manhattan, threatening to halt the set, but the band rip through their 45 minutes, igniting even more mania in the crowd when bassist Jared Swilley takes his guitar and walks Jesus-style across a sea of hands for ‘Juvenile’, then ends the set with a risky front flip as the crowd save him from certain paralysis if he’d hit the concrete. As if on cue, the heavens open and organisers order the crowd to leave as a lightning storm breaks out behind the stage. …Trail Of Dead’s set is cancelled and Black Lips emerge as the headliners of the day. Which is the way it should’ve been in the first place.

Fiona Byrne

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