© Aaron Davidson

Black Lips @ Rickshaw Theatre – March 27th 2014

Back in town in support of their new effort, Underneath The Rainbow, the Black Lips haven’t taken any drastic stylistic turns from their last release Arabia Mountain but hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Stepping on stage to a revved up and rambunctious crowd, the Black Lips had the crowd fired into high gear at the sound of the first guitar riff. From the first chord of “Family Tree,” Black Lips lead the sold out audience at the Rickshaw Theatre in a night of rousing, outlandish fun.

“How can we top last time we were here? You guys were setting the city on fire,” quipped guitarist Cole Alexander. The Black Lip’s last performed in Vancouver during the Canuck’s game 7 loss against the Bruins in the 2011 Stanley Cup finals. Georgia Street was engulfed in chaos by the time the band had taken the stage. They calmly introduced themselves: “We are the Black Lips and there is a riot outside 1!2!3!4!” before launching into an assault of poppy, psychedelic garage rock.

The East Vancouver crowd were prepared for another round of debauchery. The audience, a sea of laughing, beer spilling punks and pop enthusiasts, were overjoyed with the opportunity for such shameless buffoonery. The Black Lips are renowned for their energetic and raunchy shows. Cole Alexander spitting a loogie six feet in the air before catching it mid-song, band members made out on stage, beer can soccer and numerous stage diving incidents are all things to be expected at a Black Lips performance. This evening’s performance was no exception.

Drawing heavily from fan favourite cuts like “O Katrina!”, “Raw Meat,” “New Direction,” and “Modern Art,” the band also pulled a few early day classics like “Boomerang” and “Dirty Hands.” Sounding somewhere between the Sonics and Guided By Voices, few bands cultivate such bouncy and carefree atmospheres as the Black Lips; it also helps that the British invasion inspired team continues to deliver such promising songs. With a chain of strong albums under their belt, including two or three modern classics, it is understandable that the band can only play a portion of their many fantastic compositions. New numbers from Underneath The Rainbow were unfortunately sparse. “Drive By Buddy,” “Smiling” and the slow burning “Boys in the Woods” worked well in a live setting but album highlights “Dog Years,” “Waiting” and lead single “Funny” were absent. The Black Lips have no problems unleashing onstage mayhem, but the group also knows when to wrap up a show before they wear out their welcome. The strong set of high calibre punk rock came to a close with the juvenile delinquent anthem “Bad Kids;” the crowd hit a climax of chaotic dancing and drunken ambition.

After a three song encore featuring “Drugs” and some of the band’s earliest cuts, the Black Lips waved goodnight to the beer soaked audience and departed on a high note.

The Black Lips continue to distinguish themselves as astute songwriters and highly entertaining rock n’ roll personalities. Vancouver gets fired up when the Black Lips come to town; this time only figuratively.

Photos of Black Lips © Aaron Davidson

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