100 Shows of 2010 - #4: The Black Lips/Box Elders/The Vermilions @ Black Cat, 3/19/10

Once more, dear friends, I was on pins and needles to see this next show. Sure, I saw The Black Lips last year down in Austin, but that’s different. I had always wanted to see them here, at the Black Cat, while sucking down pints of amaretto sours (thanks, Al). Seeing them was surely gonna be awesome enough. But throw in Nebraskans Box Elders and promising Frederickburgians The Vermilions, and you’ve got a recipe for a bitchin’ show. I was stoked to bring my friend Kat along for the ride, since she hadn’t ever seen The Lips before and was dying to. Needless to say, we were both verily entertained.

MINI RECAP: The Vermilions = Fantastical! Box Elders = Also fantastical! The Black Lips = Again, fantastical! Overall score: A.

There was a line halfway down the block by the time I got to 14th Street. Given who all was playing, this wasn’t entirely unexpected. In fact, I have to say I was surprised it wasn’t busier at the show. What’s wrong with you, People Who Were Not There? In any event, I assumed the position (cocktail in one hand, pen in another) and prepared to be wowed. And may I just say, I was pretty dang wowed.

If you’re not familiar with The Vermilions, might I suggest you make yourselves acquainted. They were a perfect fit for the bill, loud and jangly and very, very likeable. To give you a better idea, they cite bands like Detroit hellions The Stooges and the MC5 amongst their influences, not to mention the great Commonwealth of Virginia. Accordingly, they play their guitars something fierce. And I like it. They’re feisty and kinda cute, so naturally I dug them. I do believe you probably will, too.

From one great set to another, Box Elders took the stage next. As with The Vermilions, it was immediately obvious why The Black Lips chose to bring Box Elders out on their road trip with them. The Omaha-ians are also loud, and while their songs aren’t quite as offensive as the ground the Lips tend to tread, they sure are amusing. The three-piece really impressed me, and while I already knew I liked them before the show, by the time second song “Alice & Friends” started I was hooked. Perhaps it was their utilization of not one but two double-neck guitars. No, really. It was amazing. Perhaps it was their pop meets surf meets punk meets garage sound. Perhaps it was their song about Hippy Druids. Yes, you heard me. Or perhaps it was that their drummer was so very excitedly animated, bouncing around and waving his arms all over creation, like the human version of Animal. Minus all that orange hair. It was probably everything about them, really, that made them so bloody endearing. Their set was over far too soon, if you ask me. The dudes of Box Elders are cheeky little buggers (i.e. playing Jefferson Airplane’s song “White Rabbit” and calling it a cover of a song by a band they just played with), and it’s a fine thing indeed.

And then it was time. Time to get ill/rowdy/inappropriate. Yes indeed, it was time for The Black Lips, Atlanta’s, er, finest. “How y’all doin,” they began. “We’re The Black Lips from Atlanta, Georgia.” And the crowd went nuts. Really, what can you say about The Black Lips? They’re seriously snarky, bratty, dirty, and absolutely irresistible. They also happen to make some of the finest garage revival music around, and their low-brow lyrics can’t quite manage to detract from how good they are as a band. One of my favorite things about their set was the occasional projection of the blobby liquid globules, looking like a high school science experiment and a flashback to a time when nobody in the crowd was born yet. It was “magic time” anytime the projection was turned on, and with some amaretto in me that was one of the most amusing things I’d heard all night. As for the music, The Black Lips were even better than at SXSW 2009. It was wonderful to see them in an enclosed space, where the crowd was there to see them and not all the bands coming after them. The kids loved ‘em, and the band was on point. They played a lot of my personal faves, like “O Katrina,” “Dirty Hands,” “Lock and Key,” “Bad Kids,” an amazing version of “Juvenile,” and an encore of “Navajo.” It was insane.

I don’t think I could have enjoyed myself more. Ok, maybe if the Lips had played “Veni Vidi Vici.” And “MIA.” But that’s about it. Good company, good bands, and good booze. It doesn’t get much better, folks.

mp3: Alice & Friends (Box Elders from Alice & Friends)

mp3: Lock & Key (Black Lips live at Amoeba)


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