View more photos in Timothy Norris' “Black Lips, Nobunny @ El Rey” slideshow.
Saturday night at the El Rey Black Lips and Nobunny turned the art deco venue into a punk rock doo-wop dance party, complete with creaky blues-ghost howling. The two acts are a perfect pairing, and whipped the place into a stage diving, mosh pit hurricane.
Nobunny took the stage and launched into his dirty anti-hero set, a swirling mess of love, sex and uncontrollable urges, and the place went ape-shit. Why wouldn't they? Here is a grown man dressed in stained briefs and sporting a dirty fluffy bunny mask singing into the ears, hearts and bodies of pulsating teen-agers and twenty somethings. Their reaction? They kicked, punched and shoved each other into circles and crazy figure eights on the venue floor.
“Nobunny loves you!” shouted Justin Champlin, the man behind the mask, and a mighty whooping and hollering rose up in response. Girls got pushed on stage and shimmied up close, only to be pushed back into the crowd by paranoid security guards as Nobunny tore through his entire set in what seemed like ten minutes.
Black Lips took the stage like stoic ravaged warriors, dressed as hip-hop dandies and 1950's bible salesmen. They immediately launched into classics like “Dirty Hands,” all jangly, tinny, guitar-driven intensity, each riff building off the last into a small explosion.
During “Katrina,” their ode to the 2005 disaster, a somber darkness fell across the theatre as an eerie 1960s black lava lamp looking projection played against the band; you could practically see the clouds moving in like an omen of ill will. By the time they got to the crowd pleaser “Bad Kids,” the room was heavy with panting, bruised bodies and sweat. Guitar player Cole Alexander even lived up to his lore as an onstage vomit machine, pouring forth twice and dangerously close to the adoring heads peering up hungrily toward their Saturday night messiahs.