Live Review: Black Lips/Mika Miko

Atlantan racket-making weirdos and LA no-wave kids head up a seven-band bill in a rollerdisco. Rollerpalooza, Skate Central, Sheffield, Saturday, May 16

Rollerskating, rock music and copious quantities of alcohol sound like the sort of hedonistic cocktail that’s guaranteed to produce ill effects. Broken bones, for instance. And with notorious Atlanta riot-rockers Black Lips and LA femme-punks Mika Miko just two of seven (!) bands on offer here, we’re traversing Skate Central’s seedy, catacombed corridors wondering, “How the bejesus did they get a licence for this?” There’s not an obvious answer to that waiting for us at the top of the stairs, but there are hundreds of grinning drunks on skates – including members (count ’em!) of every single band on tonight’s bill.

Hell, Black Lips’ Jared Swilley even plays their headline set on wheels. It’s a gimmick, sure, but unlike, say, a gig at a bowling alley, it’s one that doesn’t get in the way of the music or others’ enjoyment of it. And what’s not to enjoy about Mika Miko? Their songs are all under two minutes long, they play ragged, no-frills no wave and, most impressively of all, they make use of a saxophone in a way

that isn’t utterly abhorrent. Sorry, Less Than Jake fans. Tonight, material from the recently released ‘We Be Xuxa’ (a reference

to a popular kids’ TV programme in the US) sounds deliciously raucous and lascivious, ‘Wild Bore’’s buzzsaw guitars in particular provoking frenzy among the front row.

By the time Black Lips come on, things are looking even more hairy down there. Surprise, surprise. Many ditch their skates in a bid to get even closer, eventually resulting in the collapse of a barrier. The band’s headline shows are renowned for their non-musical incidents, but, that minor setback aside, this isn’t one of those nights. No, the tunes speak for themselves these days and though new album ‘200 Million Thousand’ might not have received the same critical acclaim as 2007’s ‘Good Bad Not Evil’, it’s a record that more than does the business live. Dirty riffs, psychedelic wig-outs and gang vocals: these are the principal ingredients of Good Music, and tonight – as ever – the Lips have all three in spades. ‘Take My Heart’ does just that with its swooning Stones guitars, while ‘Short Fuse’ ignites courtesy of a filthy, distorted solo worthy of their other heroes, The 13th Floor Elevators. ‘Bad Kids’, so often the band’s anthemic calling card, sums up the night’s unorthodox entertainment perfectly.

Stuart Grant