Black Lips, Detroit Bar, October 21, 2007

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Black Lips stoke the crowd. Photo by Will Tee Yang.

Maybe it was the gusty Santa Ana winds and nearby raging fires that made the air smell like civilization was being barbecued. Maybe it was Black Lips' reputation for rowdy, bodily-fluid-spewing live shows. Whatever the case, large segments of the crowd at Detroit Bar for the Atlanta foursome were going off the rails something fierce. From the first song onward, a rugby match (sans ball, but with many nuts) broke out stage front, as hyperactive bodies collided with the reckless abandon of people who possess no medical insurance.

One would hazard that security escorted more customers out of the club last night than they have in the history of all Detroit Bar concerts combined. Some lame fool threw a glass that hit Lips drummer Joe Bradley in the forehead, drawing blood and much tub-thumper ire. Bradley announced that he wanted to have a serious discussion with said idjit after the show. Detroit co-owner Jon Reiser observed this gig's mosh pit was the most rambunctious he's ever seen at the venue. “Melvins, Helmet—those shows were totally chill compared to this,” he said as we watched another manchild get hustled out of the club.

But how was the music? It was rousing, mildly psychedelic, solidly rootsy garage rock with generous hooks and winning sing-along choruses. These Southern dudes emit a good energy onstage, so it was surprising that their music inspired so much rough-housing. To me, it sounds more like enjoyably retro party music for people who unashamedly wear paisley shirts and pray to Roky Erickson every night before bed. It certainly doesn't come off like the soundtrack to making bouncers sweat profusely and provoking audience members turning drinking vessels into missiles.

Perhaps that acrid aroma was actually surplus testosterone…

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