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Friday, January 22, 2010

Last Night: The Black Lips, Nobunny, and Personal & the Pizzas

Posted By on Fri, Jan 22, 2010 at 7:50 AM

The Black Lips, Nobunny, Personal & the Pizzas
Thursday, Jan. 21, 2010
Great American Music Hall

The Black Lips are excellent purveyors of their own mythology. Labeling themselves as "flower punk" or even "the kings of psychedelic garage rock," the young Atlanta foursome have worked hard to create an image as torch-carrying, globe-trotting, New-York-Times-reading misfits at once hedonistic and wise; savvy and obscene. They've been playing this ramshackle, slop-pop-rock together since the age of 15! They get naked, kiss, and eject bodily fluids onstage! They recorded an album live in a rowdy Tijuana bar! The band even got kicked out of India!

With a backstory like this one, saying that the band's performance at Great American Music Hall had a lot to live up to is an understatement. Perhaps it was bound to be a disappointment -- although we seemed alone in this feeling among the young, enthusiastic, sold-out crowd -- but last night, Black Lips seemed the opposite of mythic. They seemed like just another rock band.

The Black Lips' records are cutely messy, but onstage, the band's sound lost all definition, space, and dynamics. The reverb, distortion, and general sloppiness diluted the effusive energy of the music. Songs that shouldn't have sounded similar did. They were trying: Joe Bradley could have earned an Olympic medal with his frenetic drumming, but its musical impact was fuzzy. Frontmen Jared Swilley and Cole Alexander flailed, fell, and stumbled around the stage, but whether that hindered their playing or not, the wash of bland noise just blared on. Even their "Yay, we're all bros!" charm didn't cut through the mix.

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Ian S. Port


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