Live Review: Black Lips at The Music Box

Cole Alexander of The Black Lips
Cole Alexander of The Black Lips
Timothy Norris

Who: The Black Lips

Where: The Music Box

When: 6/24/11

The energy in the Music Box crackled before the Black Lips even arrived on stage last night. The opening acts had done a good job of getting the crowd all riled up. T-shirts were already soaked with sweat and most of the hair in the room was lank and dripping. People were ready to mosh and anticipation hummed through the air like a live wire.

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Everyone wanted to see the flower punks from Athens, GA live up to their reputation as wild men who pissed, puked, kissed each other on stage, and occasionally ate fire crackers. This was the band that had to flee India after a show during which they stripped down to their birthday suits. They had a reputation of madness and destruction to live up to.

And did they? Um ... no, not really.

Surfers
Surfers
Timothy Norris

Whether they're growing up, weren't feeling up to it physically, or have been hanging out too much with ever-classy producer Mark Ronson, we regret to inform you that nothing was set on fire in the Music Box (aside from all the "medicinal" cigarettes).There was no nudity or ritual sacrifice on stage. It was a straight, by the book, garage rock show.

Whatever antics were lacking on stage were more than made up for by the audience, who went berserk like beasts that had been released after a long imprisonment. A moshpit instantly materialized and crowd surfers floated through the air with ruthless frequency. It got so frantic that by the third song, three security guards were standing on the rails yelling at people to calm down. You had to pity security. While grabbing the wriggling, slippery masses that launched themselves toward the stage, a number of them got kicked in the head.

A vertical launch
A vertical launch
Timothy Norris

Throughout a set filled mostly with songs from their latest album, Arabia Mountain, and a few old favorites sprinkled in, the Black Lips looked confident, composed and almost, dare we say, professional. They hit their notes, they shook their heads, and they said nice things about the city they were playing in. The wildest thing that happened on stage was during "Bad Kids." A number of their friends arrived to dance on stage throwing toilet paper in the air and partially mummifying the Lips. A menacing shower of toilet paper. That was as punk as it got on stage.

The traditional position
The traditional position
Timothy Norris

Then all of a sudden, the show ended and half the crowd cleared out. It was precisely at this moment that the remaining audience decided that they had had enough. As soon as the Black Lips got back on stage for their encore, a wave of crowd surfers stormed the stage. It's unclear whether security had gone home or just was unprepared because this time nearly all of them got on stage.

One girl in jean shorts grabbed Cole Alexander by the face and began making out with him in the corner of the stage. (Either that or she was stealing his life force through his lips. It was hard to tell.) In a matter of minutes the energy in the room shifted and chaos reigned. It was beautiful. Who cares if the Black Lips had forgotten what their live shows were about? Los Angeles made damn sure they remembered.


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