Live Review: Black Lips

Live Review: Black Lips

Webster Hall, New York, April 12th

No puking, no poultry. No peeing, nor penises. WTF, [a]Black Lips[/a]? I thought this was supposed to be a show. Kidding, of course (sort of). But after all, this is [a]Black Lips[/a] we’re talking about. The Atlanta quartet are known for their crazy onstage antics, the sort of antics that have gotten them kicked out of clubs and, in the case of a 2009 trip to India, nearly arrested.

But then again, that’s the thing about a good punk show: it’s unpredictable. Being able to expect even riotous behaviour kind of goes against the whole ‘we don’t give a fuck’ spirit of the thing. So on a rainy Tuesday evening in Manhattan’s East Village, [a]Black Lips[/a] give us exactly what we were looking for: the unexpected. Which in this case is an almost (horror!) toned-down version of their former selves.

Don’t get me wrong. The boys of [a]Black Lips[/a] don’t stand onstage and nonchalantly bob along to the music. Dressed like a mix of hipsters, rednecks, Ivy Leaguers and chain-necklace-wearing mechanics, they give it their all, an all that encompasses dancing, screaming, hopping and crowd-surfing. Surfing that is both of the crotch-led variety, and the Jesus walking-on-water style.

At a [a]Black Lips[/a] show it’s near impossible to stand still, especially when half the people are in a moshpit and every other minute you’re ducking to avoid flying beer cans and toilet paper rolls. Well… attempting to duck. There are an amazing amount of can-to-face injuries, but no-one seems to mind. Nor do they seem to mind getting backwash sprayed onto them by singer Cole Alexander. Or cans of beer swung at them from Ian St Pé’s guitar-turned-baseball bat.

But even after all of this, there’s a slightly more subdued (by Lips standards) tone to the evening. Jared Swilley refers to audience members as “ladies and gentlemen” at one point and, when playing songs off their forthcoming, Mark Ronson-produced album ‘Arabia Mountain’, they admit to slowing it down a bit. [b]‘Bad Kids’[/b] is even dedicated to all the “good dads” out there. Oh… maturity. You wouldn’t know it from the likes of the raw, exuberant [b]‘Go Out And Get It’[/b] or the cheeky [b]‘Modern Art’[/b], though. They can’t stay 18 forever, but after a decade of playing together, if Black Lips aren’t pissing on each other, they’re still pissing all over other live shows.

Stephanie Price