Words by: Sarah Morgan | Images by: Aaron Williams
The Black Lips :: 11.30.07 :: Variety Playhouse :: Atlanta, GA
One guy wore an Afro wig, the guitarist had a shiny set of teeth and the bassist looked like a character out of an old western. The seats were almost empty but the floor in front of the stage was full. Beer was dropping down like rainfall from the balcony. A woman's arms flailed around like Michael Flatley's legs. Only one band at Stomp and Stammer's shindig could cause this kind of excited havoc - The Black Lips. Just like they sing on "Veni Vidi Vici," "Mirror, mirror, on the wall. Who's the greatest of them all?"
| The Black Lips :: 11.30.07 :: Atlanta|
Four Atlanta bands took the stage to help Stomp and Stammer celebrate 11 years as a free local publication that features just about everything someone needs to know about the local music scene. The sold out show had ticket holders bubbling with anticipation, and the pizza was warm and the beer cold as people made their way down the aisles making sure not to spill that most valuable liquid.
The Selmanaires were the first to claim the mic. The lights were crazy with the board operator thinking every beat called for a new flash of color. Lead singer Herb Harris bobbed his head around like John Lennon performing "Love Me Do." The band seemed to be in search of a sound that defines them. The upbeat pop song is a dime a dozen and not worth the price of a ticket or CD, but as The Selmanaires played they gained energy and attention. However, the mixture of the lights, the pop sound and lingering questions about their hygiene (the name sounds a lot like salmonella) just didn't add up well for The Selmanaires.
Snowden were next with a solid sound and great stage presence. They are a mix of The Cure and Interpol with a hard edge. "Like Bullets," "Stop Your Bleeding" and "Victim Card" were filled with emotion and superb music thanks to the raw sound of singer Jordan Jeffares. Every instrument flowed together to create a harmonious sound that screams this band is going to be big. Bassist-keyboardist Corinne Lee set the tone for the performance as soon as she threw off her red knit cap and her hair went flying.
| The Black Lips :: 11.30.07|
The night was getting better. The Selmanaires didn't seem so bad now, really just the kind of warm up I needed. The next band was sure to be another great niche in this night of music.
It started well, with an acidic light show that sucked you into the bass, drums and guitar. Our bodies were rocking back and forth and we didn't even know it. The beer was almost gone but that was fine. Deerhunter felt like a band that was going to hit another high mark. Then Bradford Cox started to sing. I use the term "sing" loosely here. I didn't know if Cox was calling for whales or trying to simply clear his throat by holding a single note – though not in tune – for as long as possible. I missed The Selmanaires. Was no one else noticing this? Everyone else was still rocking. Wait! I was still rocking! Oh, no, they'd sucked me in and now I didn't know what to do. Thinking quickly, I fought off the bad vibes of horrible music by getting a refill. Dammit! The music was in the lobby, too.
Deerhunter is the kind of band you know you don't want to hear again but do want your friends to experience so you recommend the show anyway. I'm not saying I didn't appreciate their abilities as musicians. The band has a solid following and perhaps maybe at a different time I could become one of those people staring off into space as Cox sings to the whales.
The night of up-and-down music was all worth it when the curtain pulled back to reveal the crazy band members of The Black Lips. Their wild shows have gotten them kicked out of plenty of clubs before they made it to this one, and it's not hard to see why. Anything that could be thrown was thrown. At one point, a shoe hit guitarist Ian St. PE on the shoulder. He laughed it off and kept right on going.
| The Black Lips :: 11.30.07 :: Atlanta|
The lyrics were barely understandable but the energy was distinctive and Cole Alexander's vocals were solid. It was a mess that had to be distinguished within a fraction of a second and it seemed everyone understood the translation perfectly. It's a weird mixture of 13th Floor Elevators, The Kinks and The Hives, just to name a few. The yelling, gyrating, beer-in-the-air energy and Alexander's echoing voice mixed with bassist Jared Swilley and drummer Joe Bradley fit together in a perfect "fuck the system" way.
Smoking in the bathroom stalls and spray-painting penises on walls aren't taboo subjects for this band. They embrace their wild side and expect the audience to do the same. It's no surprise to see the crowd jump up and down. The Black Lips give the music industry a much-deserved black eye and show what inebriated talent can bring to the table.
The Black Lips are riding high off their fifth album, Good Bad, Not Evil. This show was the start of a tour that will take them to Australia, across the U.S. and back to Atlanta for their final show on March 22, 2008.
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