Atlanta’s own sons of punk the Black Lips took the stage with beers in hand at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston this weekend. Relatively tame compared to infamous stories of onstage antics including vomiting, nudity or infernos, the show was your typical amalgam of mustachioed and leathered up fans looking to spray beer showers and crowd surf to some rebellious American music. Drawing inspiration from their southern roots, the Black Lips effect a unique combination of blues, doo-wop, country and punk.
Kicking off the set with “Sea of Blasphemy,” the boys jerked around the stage, moodily singing, “lost my handle” before the screaming hook, “And now I’m really on my own!” Joe Bradley on the drums whipped his hair emphatically singing the second song, “Family Tree” as the front men danced wildly around, returning to the mics for the scrappy chorus.
The band’s veteran members and notorious havoc-wreakers Cole Alexander and Jared Swilley, rhythm guitar and bass guitar, respectively, took a pause to smirk with a “Boston, how we doin?!” before the stage was drowned in a blood red haze and they slammed into “Boomerang.” Beer showers sprayed through the air in the low ceilinged venue and the night’s first crowd surfers heaved in chaos as Alexander and Swilley ran circles round the stage.
The more du-wop-y “Dirty Hands” brought richness to the set with a dance- easy beat, a departure from the let’s-smash-things aura of the opening songs. That is, until you hear lyrics like, “I’m wearing leather / And I really think it’s cool” But what’s more fun than swing dancing to lyrics about smoking dope and getting tatted. Next came a couple of new songs off Underneath the Rainbow, released in March 2014. While stage antics could never live up to the poisonous and wonderfully demented ATL twin-directed music video for “Boys in the Wood,” the boys rallied substantial moshing and dripping wet chaos for the new song.
The ensuing crowd chaos refused to quit for the rest of the set, resulting in the vocals echoing and drowning in the cavernous repercussions of the drums, guitar feedback and raspy chorus of “Justice After All.” Alexander cheekily introduced “Drive By Buddy” saying, “So the media is all like, ‘you sound the same.’ Well here’s another bloodless song…”
Eerily psychedelic lights twisted underwater in a visual display that appeared behind the band for the end of the set. The twangy sting of country sounding “Buried Alive” captures the pervading anarchist twist cast on familiar palettes, and the barrel of rusty nails goes down surprisingly smooth. “We’re gonna slow it down for a second…” Swilley said before wishing all a Happy Easter and jamming for “Lock and Key.”
Chaos reigned once more for rebel anthem, “Bad Kids.” Staffers threw out dozens of toilet paper rolls, streaming in white arcs crisscrossing over the sweat and beer soaked audience as they moshed. Finishing off the set with a bang, the breathless band members ran back and forth across the stage, high fiveing the hundreds of hands reaching towards them. “You been so good to us tonight!”
Chants of “Encore! Encore!” brought the rowdy boys back for bass heavy, high pitched vocals, hair flipping “Woah Katrina.” The finale concluded as they shouted, “We’re gonna leave y’all with a song that’s a cover from our other band. All Mighty Defenders!” The garage-band wet dream made up of Black Lips, King Khan and BBQ has been around since 2009. In a salute to their collaborators and their rock initiative, they finished off the set with a vibrant, twisted, mosh inducing jam.