Along with openers Cerebral Ballzy, the
Lips brought a much-needed dose of rock ‘n’ roll chaos to the staid confines of
Portland, Ore., venue the Wonder Ballroom on June 14.
By Tim Hinely
Even these days
it’s still unusual to see a racially mixed hardcore band, but that’s what you
had with Cerebral Ballzy. OK, so the band name is one of the worst in history
but these youngsters from Brooklyn,
NY brought the noise. And quickly. It was straight up hardcore and while
their sound wasn’t the most unique thing I’ve ever heard they did it with fury
and a sense of humor too. It made me think of the years I spent in the ‘80s
seeing pretty much nothing but hardcore bands. Cerebral Ballsy was at least
better than half of those 500 or so bands that I saw in that decade (many of
which were awful, but I digress).
Atlanta’s Black Lips hit the stage at 10:15 PM
and ripped right into it. They have, or had,
a reputation for insanely wild live shows that included nudity, pissing on
stage and the like but I think those days are long behind them. Still, the band
displayed an electric energy made even more apparent when guitarist Ian
encouraged the crowd to rip down the barrier (a metal pole with a curtain
attached to it) that separated the over and under 21’s which sent a few of the
bouncers into a rage (one bouncer in particular was relentlessly trying to
restore order, but to no avail). What a
also trying to stop the bevy of stage divers was pretty great too, and all the
while the Black Lips played through it , not even noticing the young men (and
women) onstage and inches from them, many of them making the inane “Look at
me!” gestures before diving off (ah, youth).
Aside from all
of the hoopla surrounding their “wildness,” the most important thing to remember
about this band is its unique talent for songwriting. Taking cues from ‘50s rock and doo wop, ‘60s garage rock and surf music, ‘70s/’80s
punk and the like, they are able whip it up into a unique stew that they truly
can call their own, They played a fair amount of material from their latest, Arabia Mountain, as well as some
charmers from Good Bad Not Evil (I definitely
remember a rousing version of “O Katrina!”).
Regardless of who was in the producer’s chair for their latest record – in
this case, hitmaker Mark Ronson – these guys still deliver a knockout punch on
stage, and on record too, don’t let the Ronson thing scare you off.