The Black Lips @ The Phoenix

By: Andrew Horan

The Black Lips @ The Phoenix
Photo: Filipe Zuzarte
The Black Lips @ The Phoenix

Apr. 18, 2011

For a band that's infamous for on-stage antics such as urination, vomiting and nudity, Atlanta's Black Lips were fairly subdued for their recent appearance in Toronto.

"Subdued" being a relative term. The band still displayed the manic energy they're known for as they ripped through raw and primal garage rock tunes, playing old favourites and previewing new tracks from their forthcoming album Arabia Mountain.

They did show restraint, waiting until the end of the set to for any bad behaviour when bassist Jared Swiley mooned the audience before the encore and guitarists Cole Alexander and Ian Saint Pe Brown sharing a brief kiss during the encore.

The capacity crowd made up for it though, much the annoyance of security. A mosh pit formed within a few minutes of the band hitting the stage and there was a near constant stream of people stage diving. At one point, there were at least three bras on stage and one brave girl came on stage and groped a couple band members.

Ottawa's White Wires kicked off the night with a set of energetic garage punk tunes . They seemed to be having a lot of fun playing for the small crowd that had gathered. While the band seemed to be having a lot of fun, their songs did run together after a while. Their obvious enthusiasm didn't seem to trickle down to the audience.

When much-hyped lo-fi band Vivian Girls came out on stage and started tuning up, everyone thought they were going to start playing. But, they left the stage and a fairly long wait began. They may be one of the buzz bands right now but when you're an opening act, you don't get to pull this crap.

Unfortunately, the vocals were rendered completely incomprehensible because of the murky sound. Their non-existent stage presence and the all the songs sounding the same didn't help either.

The only effort at engaging the audience came when bassist Katy Goodman told the girls to pay attention to a song about love before launching into a 60's girl group call and response-style number  with guitarist Cassie Ramon.

Goodman's almost operatic vocals during one song did show some sign of promise and the band did appear to lighten up a little as the set progressed but it was still completely unremarkable.

 

The Black Lips @ The Phoenix
Photo: Filipe Zuzarte
The Black Lips @ The Phoenix
The Black Lips @ The Phoenix
Photo: Filipe Zuzarte
The Black Lips @ The Phoenix

It was obvious it was the Black Lips evening. The sound of the band tuning up behind the curtain drove the audience wild. Just before they came out, someone came out on stage and screamed, "Who are you here to see?" to which the audience responded, "Black Lips!"

They kicked it off with a ferocious garage punk number that set the pace for what followed. Alexander played his guitar behind his neck and over his head during the first couple songs.

The swirling psychedelic light show threw the audience into stark relief and provided the perfect visual accompaniment to a couple psych punk numbers. Hell, they even played a couple country songs.

When the first bra flew on stage, Saint Pe Brown commented that it was, "The dirtiest bra I've ever seen." He then kept it draped over his mic stand and head through most of the set.

Though it was mostly a showcase for songs from their new album, they went back to their first self-titled album.

Just before they played their last song, Swilley thanked the crowd for a lovely evening, saying it had been a pleasure.

When he walked out into the crowd/crowd surf, it fit the Stooges-esque number perfectly. Just before they left the stage for the first time, they high-fived everyone in the front row, returning to the stage after a short wait.

Swilley made an appeal for his lost shoes during the encore but it appeared that were lost. But he was a trooper about it and played in his bare feet.

When the house lights came up, they sent a sweaty and intoxicated crowd happily on their way.

Video: "Bad Kids" by the Black Lips

The Black Lips @ The Phoenix
Photo: Filipe Zuzarte
The Black Lips @ The Phoenix
The Black Lips @ The Phoenix
Photo: Filipe Zuzarte
The Black Lips @ The Phoenix
The Black Lips @ The Phoenix
Photo: Filipe Zuzarte
The Black Lips @ The Phoenix

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