This band/show needs no introduction. I usually run through a massive history to introduce my Black Lips reviews, but at this point it just feels redundant. Look all around you. Check out this site and you’ll see what we’re all about… KIDS LIKE YOU & ME – we started five years ago, the same year we first saw the Lips live. Many subsequent shows and excessive fandom have since ensued. Alas, it’s been nearly three years since we’ve seen the band in the flesh. In fact, it was exactly three years ago when we saw the Lips here at the dise; we ventured out for a couple of NYC shows later in 2011. Three long years.
Over these years, KLYAM itself has slowly evolved. With each passing year we have grown closer to the music community as well as carving out our own distinct identity in that same community. Our focus has shifted from bigger (mid level) bands to smaller, local rock ‘n’ roll outfits such as Atlantic Thrills, Fat Creeps, Nice Guys, The Fagettes, etc. The list goes on and on and I can’t recommend all of them enough especially if you salivate over Black Lips and the wild rock ‘n’ roll spirit they embody. Anyway, primarily keeping up with these Boston/New England monsters has forced us into an underground world of dusty basement shows, tiny (sometimes empty) rock clubs, dive bars, or simply hip, welcoming art galleries/DIY spaces. This is the same world our friends the Black Lips were spit out of many moons ago.
If you’re not familiar with the first half of the Black Lips’ career, I suggest getting to know it. See: Die Slaughterhaus (Atlanta house venue in the early 2000s – home to Black Lips, Deerhunter, and a whole scene full of wayward boys and girls and drunken debauchery). Those were their “underground” years. 1999-2006. 2007-present, the band has become a massive force in the “indie” world, garnering vast media attention, fan adoration – homegrown and international (tours of Israel, India, and the Middle East), not to mention a steady batch of solid albums to back up the acclaim. So, after that lengthy introduction (ahh fuck, I guess I did give an introduction even when I set out not to), here we are tonight and despite our nastier leanings, we still love the Lips as much as ever. Here we go. To the show…
But wait, the doors aren’t open yet! “So call the copssssss” No wait call the Firemen apparently cause “no fire in the 40 Watt motherfucker!” errr I mean “no fire in the Paradise motherfucker! Alright, I’ll quit with the Lips references. Long story short, a fire alarm or something went off in the Paradise, so we have to wait outside for another twenty minutes or so. Fine, we do some catching up with our fellow Lips devotee Travis, reminiscing of past Lips concerts.
Natural Child – I’ve been a Natti Child (that’s what I like to call them, fuck off) fan since 2010, yet I have never seen the band live :(. They have been to Boston before though. As far as I know, this is their third show. Their first appearance was under the radar, seeing that the band was playing at a house show in Allston (Twin Towers) in November 2011 and damn I missed it. The second time was at Great Scott also in Allston in July 2012 and I was out of town that week. Now, NOW is my time. Though, I’m still a Natti Child fan, I’m more enamored by their older, more aggressive, punkier, material which always had a lovely flavor of country to it. Nowadays and for the last couple albums, these Nashville dudes are 100% country fried. This is cold country to the bone. Very chill, relaxed, like sitting on your porch, smoking a pipe, maybe a spliff, perhaps listening to the splifft – the Nice Guys/Miami Doritos splifft 7″ that is, available through KLYAM Records ;). OR simply listening to the rad eee ohh, leaning back and sipping down that smooth whiskey whilst discussing your thoughts on the Vietnam War with your buddies. It has that laid back feel to it.
The crowd appreciates Natural Child as do I, but at best there are some slight movements, a little dance here and there. I myself am mellow in my admiration. I don’t recognize any of the tunes, but I still enjoy their performance as a worthy introduction to the Lips and as a long time fan of the band. I would have liked to have heard more (if any?) earlier, 1971 (2011) era Natti Child, but that’s alright. Lastly, the band has grown in numbers since I last checked them out – there’s now an additional guitarist and a pianist. Yessir, I can finally cross Natural Child off my “Bands To See Before I Die” list.
Black Lips – The excitement, the awe, the anticipation, the moment, the memory. The Black Lips are my favorite band of all times, if that hasn’t been made abundantly clear by this point. This may not be the Middle East (the venue in Cambridge) nor 2009, but hell it’s still a rollercoaster for me. One thing does disrupt my rollercoaster ride, however, and that is this dumbass guardrail that serves as a mighty trench between the stage and the people. It’s a fascist barrier and kills some of the vibes, but we manage.
“Sea of Blasphemy” (Let It Bloom, 2005) is still the choice opener and as always that kicks off the hurricane of bodies smashing back and forth into each other. The foursome slither into Arabia Mountain (2011) classic “Family Tree,” then transition to a new cut “Drive By Buddy” from their latest LP Underneath The Rainbow (2014). Cole lends his vocals to all of these ditties and Cole does well in his raspy, punk slimy, Cole way. Though Cole ain’t the only one belting out the leads…
We get served a full entree of Joe numbers. Dude bops the skins and screams his heart out without a second of hesitation. The look of exhilaration and pleasure on his face is the heart that pumps the band and the audience as a whole. Or for a less flowery, more flower punky metaphor, the drummer is the power bottom of a rock show. He (in this instance) is limited by his position, seated all by his lonesome, way in the back. YET! he generates the power of the music. He is the dominating force that fuels the entire room’s adrenaline. It totally comes through tonight.
You have Joe’s lead vocals on killer hits like Let It Bloom’s “Not A Problem,” a tune that seriously gets the crowd all riled up and singing along, “Buried Alive,” (Los Valientes Del Mundo Nuevo, 2007) a consistent smash whenever they happen to unleash it, the big chart topper, “Bad Kids” (Good Bad Not Evil, 2007), rampant dancing machine inducing “Go Out and Get It” (Arabia Mountain, 2011), and most recently, UTR’s “Justice After All.”
If you’re a Jared man, well then you’re loving some real electrifying tunes. Jared takes control on “Modern Art” (Arabia Mountain) and “O Katrina!” (Good Bad Not Evil) arguably two of the finest, most accessible, and certainly memorable songs from their entire catalog. By contrast, the Lips bust out a lesser known jam and rarely played one at that in “Punk Slime” (Let It Bloom). This one features J Swill on lead vocals and it’s a personal favorite as it is from my favorite Lips album from my favorite era of the band. More importantly, it is the KLYAM anthem – as we quote “PUNK SLIME ALL OF THE TIME!” It’s our “slogan,” and like the name Kids Like You & Me, we’ve taken it and mutilated it into our own.
Jared also provides the leads on a new song known as “Smiling,” (Underneath The Rainbow) one of the few songs I actually enjoy from the new record. Oh what, you thought it was all cock sucking around here, didn’t you? didn’t YOU? Well, everybody loves a cocksucker, but they’re not getting one. Yeah, I’m not as big into this record as all of the others, but that’s okay. This is not an UTR review. “Smiling” gets me going though.
I didn’t forget about my main man Ian. Always one for words, Ian spreads his arms open and thanks “all the fans.” He explains that they have been playing rock ‘n’ roll all along. Amen brother. Ian takes care of the lead vocals on his song “Make You Mine” (Underneath The Rainbow) and honestly he has the most polished vocals of all the members, while still retaining a rough, not ready for top 40 radio voice. Screw em’. It’s only rock ‘n’ roll.
Going back to Old King Cole Younger for a bit, he may be the most animated Lip. Hawking loogies and frolicking to and fro with his guitar. He is the lead vocalist on most of the tunes tonight and always gives the group its raw delivery. While I’m not as into the new song “Boys In The Wood” (Underneath The Rainbow), I love all of the essentials like “Raw Meat” (Arabia Mountain) and “Dirty Hands” (Let It Bloom) – the perennial sing along, Lips anthem if there ever was one. I love how Cole holds out his hand as if he is holding a joint when he utters those immortal words “Me and Bobby went to the beach this Summer, we built castles in the sand and smoked DOPE by the water.”
“Hey baby, I’d love to hold your dirty hands.” Better yet let’s make out and then I’ll make out with your friend and then I’ll watch the two of you make out together. Well, this happens to KLYAMER Glen. Very nice and at a Black Lips show may I add. Speaking of the crowd, the participation is sound, though it seemed crazier in the past or maybe it’s just me? There’s a lot of newbies, which is actually great. Convert em’. Bring your young. Though, I can tell some folks look lost when they play oldies such as “MIA” and “Ghetto Cross” both of which feature Cole on lead vocals and appear on their 2004 trashy masterpiece We Did Not Know The Forest Spirit Made The Flowers Grow. Jared even refers to “MIA” as an “old song.” It has been over a decade since its conception.
Per usual the band closes (or is it second to last?) with the band’s most recognizable song “Bad Kids” only to return for a quick encore featuring a rendition of The Almighty Defenders’ “Bow Down And Die.” For those poor, unconverted souls out there, the Defenders were a punkified gospel supergroup featuring Black Lips and The King Khan & BBQ Show circa 2009/2010.
Another Lips show for the books. I had a blast, one of the best shows all year, but it’s not the same. I feel like it can never be the same again as those initial Lips live experiences 3-5 years ago. It’s like the excitement of Christmas morning or an annual family vacation. It’s hard to reignite that same spark that drove you crazy in years prior. That sensation wears off as you get older. And now being wrapped up in local, underground music the feeling of warmth and intimacy in a show is a quality I greatly desire and one rarely obtained at bigger rock shows such as this.
Nonetheless, the Lips rule, forever my favorite. I can’t wait to see these Atlantans again with The King Khan & BBQ Show!!! What a double feature, a true rock ‘n’ roll show coming to you this fall…
I recognize that this is an extremely long review, but thanks for reading if you are reading. I hope you had fun. Ultimately, this is for my own collection. Documentation. Whether you can proudly hold the first Die Slaughterhaus pressing of “Ain’t Coming Back” 7″ (2001) in the palm of your dirty hands or you just got turned on to Underneath The Rainbow through your hip friend, OR you tapped into their discography somewhere in between like us (2008 for us). Whatever the case may be, I hope you’re having fun and appreciating all of the wonderful music being made around you, regardless of internet hype, fame, or peer pressure. It’s only rock ‘n’ roll.
Punk Slime All Of The Time.
Set-List (by album):
We Did Not Know Forest Spirit Made The Flowers Grow (2004):
Let It Bloom (2005):
“Sea Of Blasphemy”
“Not A Problem”
Los Valientes Del Mundo Nuevo (2007):
“Buried Alive” (though Sea, Dirty, and Not also appear on this live recording)
Good Bad Not Evil (2007):
Arabia Mountain (2011):
“Go Out And Get It”
Underneath The Rainbow (2014):
“Drive By Buddy”
“Make You Mine”
“Justice After All”
“Boys In The Wood”
“Bow Down And Die” (The Almighty Defenders “cover” from The Almighty Defenders, 2009)
Am I forgetting anything? Let me know. Overall, a diverse set list with songs from all over their fifteen year long career.
Check out this video of the Lips playing “O Katrina!” at the show. Shot by KLYAMER Joanna!