With a status as revered and prolific as Atlantan garage punks BLACK LIPS, they’re a band you have to see to believe. Rewind eight years and they were well known (or extremely notorious) at venues around the world. Gigs would descend into urinating and nudity on stage, just a small sample of their reputation. In the years that followed, they became somewhat controversial figures within the punk scene.
It’s 2019 now. Have Black Lips mellowed with age? Has craziness stirred through the years? With a full supporting cast of Liverpool’s own punks in tow, the scene is set to see if the notoriety still rings true.
As has been said a thousand times before – even by myself – but no less true: OHMNS know how to put on a show. They smash out classics from 2015 EP The Rice Tape. But what’s noticeable, particularly with the seven-minute version of Keshi Heads dedicated to Craig Charles, is how Ohmns elongate their riffs and a punk classic transforms into a sludgy jam that you can’t take your eyes off.
Next on stage are Chester’s YAMMERER. With a lead singer who is wrapping himself in his microphone lead with sunglasses on the back of his head, Yammerer feel more like a performance art piece rather than a punk band. You don’t have to know which songs are which, which is probably a good thing. You can’t take home a coherent sentence from the microphone. But it matters little. You want to participate in the madness yourself. The entire set fluctuates between simmering anticipation to full blown pandemonium. What’s more punk than that?
Black Lips immediately go for the jugular as they hit the stage, with only an hour until curfew. They start off with Arabia Mountain classic Family Tree. The crowd, which had been quite tame until now, splits into madness and fear of madness. People begin to spin and bump into each other, and some are courageous enough to crowd surf. You’re holding someone up by their boot, but it’s definitely all part of the fun of being in a crowd that energetic.
They play a varied selection of songs, including tracks from 2005’s seminal album Let It Bloom and of course, their biggest hit O Katrina! The songs begin to mellow as they turn towards their album Sing In A World That’s Falling Apart, their forthcoming country-infused record.
For the more hardcore garage punk fans, this might not be what they’ve come for, but it’s still captivating to witness a band’s sound evolving in such a way. Line-up changes aside, Black Lips appear to have finally gelled together for the long term. They’ve matured and found comfort in the country, but they haven’t completely forgotten to give fans what they want.