And that's a good thing. As noted in this week's Short List, the Atlanta punk quartet has a habit of spreading bodily fluids all over themselves, the stage, and the audience, so it's for the best that the only liquids in play last night were perspiration and Pabst.
No, the spectacle took a back seat to the music, a Ramones-style blitzkrieg through 17 songs. It was relentless. There were only occasional brief pauses between numbers--just long enough for the band to complain about the rule prohibiting them from drinking onstage--followed by pounding three-chord freakouts that never seemed to last more than 90 seconds.
Naturally, the crowd was wild. The mosh pit was fierce in a friendly way, and the Lips had a roadie in a broad-brimmed black felt hat whose sole duty it seemed was to shove would-be stage divers back from whence they came before they could stand up and get a good leap. Utter pandemonium ensued during the misanthropic anthem "Bad Kids," with pushing and shoving and fists pumping and people shouting the lyrics in a furious sing-along.
The set list (in full below) drew from their entire catalog, with a hearty helping of songs from their new release Arabia Mountain. When the opening line of the new single "Modern Art"--"K-hole at the Dalí!"--was belted out, the house went again berserk. Live, the glossy Mark Ronson production on the new material is replaced by a dirty sheen of fuzz and frantic energy.
Photos by Keegan Hamilton
It was, however, quite a bit less rowdy than previous Black Lips performances. Guitarist Ian St. Pé swatted crushed tall-boy cans with the back of his guitar, perhaps out of frustration that his own imbibing was limited to some sort of energy drink and a few swigs of beer offered by the folks in the front row. The other guitarist, Cole Alexander, hocked a loogie into the air, intending to catch it in his mouth, and, hilariously, ended up with phlegm on his face. That was pretty much it.
The band has said lately that they've started to outgrow the provocative antics, and it seems to serve them well. The energy was still palpable and the music was tighter, sounding as down-and-dirty as ever but with a honed edge as they cut through the songs in what seemed like a flash.