notes from the road: Black Lips, Neighborhood Theatre, Charlotte, NC, 07-27-11

Last night I found myself at the Neighborhood Theatre in the NODA section of Charlotte, NC — a cool little venue with a ceiling fan the size of a small city.  Black Lips were in town from Atlanta, GA and I had nothing else going on so I figured a little ‘flower punk’ would round out an evening that had thus far consisted of cocktails, a business dinner and profuse sweating.  ‘there’s a helicopter overhead!’  Yes, that ceiling fan did resemble a helicopter and I could only imagine the carnage if it were to fall, but all images of decapitation were shoved aside by the pure pleasure of its cool breeze.  I think this might be the first time I have ever been to a show were it was actually cooler inside the venue.

Prior, less exciting, engagements had me running late to the show, so when a towncar offered me a ride from my hotel to the venue for a flat rate, I jumped in and was on my way.  A friendly, black, southern gentleman driver was full of life and conversation until I answered the question ‘who are you going to see?’  ‘Black Lips’ came out before I even thought about how that might sound.  Uncomfortable silence filled the car for the rest of the short ride.  Relief came in the form of a blast of hot, humid air as I stepped out of the car and found out the band was only 15 minutes into their set.

Rambling on about the moonshine they had enjoyed before the show, being from Atlanta and southern things I didn’t quite grasp, Black Lips proved themselves to be talkers right out of the gate.  They would perform songs, quite a few of them actually, but they were also going to talk as well.  The set included tracks from their newest albumFamily Tree, Modern Art, Dumpster Dive and a few others, but the night was stacked with material from 2005’s Let It BloomFairy Stories, Not a Problem, Boomerang and Blasphemy, among others.  The rest of the material came from across their discography, but throughout the night they insisted on ignoring 200 Million Thousand — not a single song from my favorite album, and while that was disappointing, I have to admit I was entertained – as much by their stage banter as the actual songs.

I’ll bring your sandal to a Phish concert…candy flippin’…How many white folks like God?

Random nonsense all night long.  Maybe it was the moonshine, maybe it was something else, or maybe this is just how southern flower punks act?  I don’t know, but the small crowd knew exactly what to do with it. A mosh pit with dancing.  Not slam dancing.  An actually circle pit with people dancing like hippies.  Flailing arms, smiles on faces.  Definitely an interesting scene.  Oh, did I mention the band was bathed in rainbow lights all night.  Yeah.

‘How many gay people like cupcakes? How many straight people like pandas?’

The band managed to fit close to 20 songs into an hour long set, all the while hitting people up for a place to party afterward.

‘This is the every night is Friday Night Tour.  So where’s the afterparty?  Our parents are in Atlanta so they can’t tell us what to do!

But my personal favorite was when they introduced Bad Kids with ‘This one goes out to the three cute girls with X’s on their hands!’  An appropriate song for their stage persona.  Just a bunch of bad kids, on the road, away from home and playing rock music.   Bad kids, maybe — but not a bad life and not a bad show.

The encore consisted of Everybody’s Doin’ It and Bow Down and Die from their The Almighty Defenders album with King Khan.  After that, they handed the rest of their beers to the audience (probably to the girls with X’s) and that was it.  On to the afterparty I imagine.