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Review Thu Apr 08 2010

Review: Black Lips @ Logan Square Auditorium


If I ever find myself in a drunken brawl in a back alley, I want the Black Lips to be my soundtrack to the massive ass kicking that is about to commence. Chances are if you're at the front of the stage at a Black Lips show, you might just get your ass kicked as well, back alley or not. With a massive swirling mosh pit, everything from keys to beer to cell phones being launched onto the stage, and the occasional head butt from the lead singer, a Black Lips show can be a dangerous place to be. But you're also guaranteed to have one helluva time, as evident by the spastic (albeit sweaty) show the band put on last week at Logan Square Auditorium.

Upon entering the confines of Logan Square Auditorium, which always feels like you're entering a high school dance, you were greeted by an already in full effect mosh pit. The audience peppered around the venue was sipping on cheap beer and enjoying the first night of summer weather, and the Black Lips are honestly the perfect soundtrack to the warmth outside. I ran into Francis from Chicago's favorite brother/sister duo White Mystery as he heads into the pit, and if you think he's a wild child wailing on the drums, you should see him thrash around in a mosh pit. It does make me wonder though why his band isn't opening, since their sound is a perfect companion to the southern fried 50/60s pop soul with a touch of punk goodness that Black Lips cranks out. Much like White Mystery, Black Lips sound like they are lifted from another era, a retro vibe that still packs a room and makes me people deliriously happy. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, and that rings true for classic rock 'n' roll riffs. The set even look a bit retro, as they trot out some serious 60s era Fillmore style lighting before they launch into their popular track "O Katrina!" which brings out the first storm the stage moment of the night. The stage quivers and shakes as its overran by a dancing mass of bodies, stage divers leaping like spawning salmon into the crowd (nice mental picture, right?) while girls grind against various band members. It's like an out of control house party, as I watch a cell phone soar through the air. The bass player holds up a set of keys and improvises a little ditty about missing keys. Vital objects be damned! Who needs them at a Black Lips show?

As lead singer/guitarist Cole Alexander head butts an audience member, he asks the house to turn back on the magic, those trippy 60s style lights, and the band launches into "Fairy Stories." The band is notorious for their wild live shows, but the barbaric fun doesn't take away from the catchy pop hooks that fill their catalog. The music is firmly rooted in Buddy Holly era pop music, that combination of soulful blues mashed with catchy pop flourishes you can't get out of your head. Add in that dirty garage rock element the band possess and you've got the musical equivalent of Connie Francis's bad ass boyfriend that her parents forbid her to see, but she sneaks out to fool around in the back of his car anyways. A marriage between the bubble gum pop sound and punk aesthetic.

As the house music starts to play, clearly signaling the end of the show, the band decides to solider on and keep playing, prompting another mad dash onto the stage. Amongst the chaos I enjoy watching the one lone cop yelling at the crowd of 30+ people to "get off the stage" as he points his flashlight in anger at their faces. Clearly this doesn't faze anyone, but his panic provides a good laugh. Meanwhile the Empty Bottle employees are flawless in making sure no one falls off the stage all while protecting the equipment, perfecting an aura of calm and an "I've got this shit" attitude. Major Props to some of the hardest working and most cool under pressure venue workers in our fair city, an impressive feat when dealing with the stress of a live band like the Black Lips.

As Cole Alexander climbs on top of the crowd, leading them a drunken chorus (everyone seems drunk, including the band members who seem the most inebriated), it is clear that the Black Lips know how to have a good time. One downfall is you might not understand a word they say (I blame the booze) despite the fact they do not have a strong accent, as you can tell from our interview with them at Pitchfork last year. But for some reason their stage banter is totally indecipherable. Chances are you didn't come to hear them talk though, you came to get sweaty and listen to good old rock 'n' roll. If that's the case, you definitely came to the right place.

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Raf / April 8, 2010 10:49 AM

It was a rowdy show indeed! Good times. However, Jared was the one doing the headbutting.

john yingling / July 7, 2010 9:02 AM

sliced together a rad video from this show here :

as for stage banter, i think something i came away with was "WORD IS BOND! APRIL FOOLS! IM A FAGGOT! I LOVE YOU!"

one of the best shows i've ever been at.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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