BEING THERE: The Black Lips @ First Unitarian


As a Black Lips newbie assigned to review this show, I thought I’d get a crash course to all things Black and Lips by attending the Wednesday night Ritz 5 screening of their Middle East tour documentary Kids Like You And Me. The film documents the bands 2012 tour of places rife with things Americans fear most: radical Islamist protests, the threat of terrorism, and perhaps most frightening of all, People Who Aren’t Americans. The noble purpose of the tour was to find common ground and connect with the youth of places like Egypt. What they find is that young people — at least the ones they run into — want to do the same things young people all over the world want to do: Drink, smoke and rock n’ roll with their buds. Sadly, I was only one of five audience members. I feared the turnout for their show at First Unitarian the following night would be just as barren.

Fortunately, my fears proved unfounded as the First Unitarian Church was packed wall-to-wall with Black Lips fans last night — with seemingly everyone sporting a vintage denim jacket covered in artsy pins, hairstyles that would make my mother cry, and cheap malt liquor in each hand. The Black Lips kicked off the show with “Family Tree,” and as if on cue fans pushed their way through the crowd and up onto the stage. Those who managed to climb up with the band got their own fifteen seconds of fame before swan diving back into the dirty, beer-soaked crowd. This wasn’t an issue for the band members, who were already soaked with sweat and beer showers from the crowd. At one point, somebody in the audience passed a joint to Lips frontman Jared Swilley who took a part in a game of puff-puff-pass without missing a beat. One thing was clear at that point: everyone was there to have a good fucking time. Just like the kids in Egypt.

The Lips set drew from their newest album, Arabian Nights (which, I learned from the film, has nothing to do with the Middle East), a few garage-punk classics from older albums, songs with resonant, statement-of-purpose titles like “Punk Slime,” “Dirty Hands,” and “Raw Meat.” Of course, they played “Bad Kids,” reminding the audience that it’s totally cool to be a misfit. When it was all over, the band members welcomed sweaty handshakes, hugs, and kisses from their smiling fans. Like Kids Like You And Me, last night’s show made it clear that not only are the Black Lips all about building bridges and forging connections with young people all over the world, but like their fan base, they’re still just a bunch of kids getting high, drunk, sweaty and loud in a punk rock dreamland. — MARY LYNN DOMINGUEZ

Family Tree
Modern Art
Not A Problem
Punk Slime
Make you Mine
Dirty Hands
Drive-By Buddy
Go Out and Get It
Sea of Blasphemy
Lock N Key
Raw Meat
Smiley Face Man
Boyz in the Wood
Bad Kids