TVD Live: Black Lips
at Black Cat, 4/8

There’s something about the Black Lips that makes people go a little crazy, and “a little” may be an understatement.

I was first introduced to the Black Lips in 2008 when they opened up for The Raconteurs at 9:30 Club. I had no idea what I was in for. The insanity that is rhythm guitarist Cole Alexander was rolling around on stage in a captain’s hat, jumping off the bass drum, spitting in the air, and expertly catching it [the spit] in his mouth. Then there was “magic time” where red blobs were projected on the stage, and people put their hands up and did jazz fingers. I didn’t know what it was all about, but I figured what the hell and put my hands up. I walked away from that first encounter a Black Lips fan.

I saw them for the second time at the Black Cat after their 2009 album 200 Million Thousand came out. This time I was more prepared. Cole had a pilgrim hat on, Ian had sweet gold fronts, and Jared ended up hanging from a ceiling pipe.

I don’t remember as much crowd participation at my first two Black Lips’ shows as there was at Friday’s show at the Black Cat. The Atlanta-based band has steadily grown their fan base since their emergence on the rock scene in 2002, and DC fans were definitely out for a face-melting good time on Friday night.

The night started out with Moon Women, a Philadelphia-based band described as atmospheric post punk, who proudly displayed their cassette tapes for sale. Then the three-piece band from Brooklyn, Vivian Girls, took the stage with their ’60s Brit pop-inspired music. The crowd was pretty tame until the Black Lips came on. From that point on, the floor did not stop moving.

The Black Lips exploded onto the stage with the fast-paced garage rock and crazy stage antics they are known for, and it was clear who the fans showed up to see. Two songs into their set, lead guitarist Ian said, “Oh shit, here comes new music.” The new song was much of what you’d expect from the Black Lips—psychedelic garage rock with flavors of classic pop rock. Their new song was followed up with “Cold Hands,” and a few songs later they had their first magic time—a welcome period of calm and jazz fingers, which I’m sure fans needed before another round of moshing and crowd surfing.

I don’t recall the full set list but popular songs “O Katrina,” “Lock and Key,” and “Bad Kids” were all played. Toward the end of their set, they played another new song off their forth-coming album Arabia Mountain, due out on June 7th (lucky for me it’s a day before my birthday) via Vice Records. This will be the 6th full-length album from the Atlanta boys.

In the last half of the show, a series of fans jumped up on stage with the band for a few moments of glory before jumping into the crowd. One guy ripped his shirt off and started swinging it around. Like I said, there’s just something about the Black Lips that makes people go crazy.

Cole pulled out another new hat, this time a very classy full-brimmed black number with lace. Cole was his usual explosive self, climbing amps, jumping off the bass, and performing his signature spit and catch trick. After their final song, Jared jumped onto that pipe again, bass in tow, and shimmied his way to the middle of the floor, hanging over the fans. The band ended the night with a two-song encore.

Underneath all of the lights, smoke, and on-stage antics are talented musicians who put on one hell of a show. At one point Jared said, “We’re no blues boys, we just play rock and roll,” and play they did.

I got home and pulled out my colored vinyl version of their album We Did Not Know the Forest Spirit Made the Flowers Grow and relived Friday night for the rest of the weekend. Hopefully the June release of Arabia Mountain will bring the Black Lips for another stop in DC this year. If you didn’t catch them this time, make sure you go see them; you’re always in for a good time when the Black Lips are in town.

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