Last Night: Black Lips at the Great American Music Hall
April 30th, 2009
Great American Music Hall
Better Than: Steel wool q-tips.
Most notable for live shows rife with scandal and debauchery, for Atlanta's Black Lips, bodily fluids, homoeroticism, fires, and other assorted antics are commonplace. Having been banned from countless venues domestically and abroad, the band recently upped their repertoire of drama when they fled India due to fear of imprisonment. While I generally tend to be a proponent of maniacal performances, I prefer my shock value accompanied by earnestness and musical cohesion.
Like an awkward, socially neglected pubescent attempting shit-faced party tricks at the popular kids' shindig, the Black Lips stunts have always seemed to be forced and indicative of some sort of insecurity or need for attention. Perhaps the buffoonery, along with their nearly indecipherable record production, stems from a desire to divert attention away from the fact that the bulk of their swampy retro catalogue is unbelievably sloppy and in dire lack of conventional skill. Years ago, when the Black Lips actually were teenagers, the cheap youthful angst and blatant disregard for musicianship was endearing. Now, however, it just seems a little too lazy. Then again, with Vice Records and their definitive guidebook to hip backing the band, horrible is great; if the minions embrace the stink, then cultivate it and sell it. Perhaps the garage-bound rage is sincere. After all, being raised in the South can foster immense repression. Could there be conviction behind the Black Lips' grandstanded tantrum of muck or is it all just a front - four postured lads trying their best to be the worst? Although previous encounters with the band in Chicago had left me a tad biased, last night I went to Great American Music Hall in search of answers.
Personal Bias: The smell of a sham in the air.
By the way: I'm all for bands cracking swine flu jokes, but is it too much to ask for just a little bit of wit?