The Black Lips graced Bluesfest Tuesday night at the Canadian stage, and as usual they put on an incredible performance. It got a bit wet that night at the festival, but the band played on undeterred and got everyone in the crowd moving – dancing away in their stylish ponchos or shaking off water like packs of wet dogs. The pull of their music, as well as their legendary performances, are too much of a draw for people to stay away.
These Atlanta born boys have been around since 1999, taking psychedelic rock and giving it a southern twist. The Lips have been with Vice Records since 2007’s Good Bad Not Evil and float between garage, surf and punk with three of the four members rotating vocals (your voice can’t be that bad, Jack Hines!). The line-up has changed a bit since signing with Vice – Hines joined after former guitarist Ian Saint Pe left the band before their 2014 album Underneath the Rainbow to pursue other projects. He had been with the Lips for over a decade.
The Black Lips are known for their antics as much as their garage-surf sound. They’ve learned pretty quickly that nudity at family friendly festivals like Bluesfest doesn’t fly, and they managed to keep all of the goods under wraps for the whole show. Some of us (me) are more disappointed than others. But the Bluesfest organizers breathed a sigh of relief as did the security guards.
Their stage presence is controlled chaos and unpredictable, where the crowd flip-flops between surging forward and avoiding any bodily fluids or rogue instruments that may be flung from the stage into the audience. It’s entertaining and exhausting, as the band’s energy is both contagious and addictive. When you’re not dancing, you’re swaying and cheering. Any Black Lips record will both relax and invigorate you, and the tunes are seriously catchy. Songs like ‘Bad Kids’ and ‘Family Tree’ never fail to get a crowd moving, where slower melodies like ‘Vini Vedi Vici’ and more recently ‘Boys in the Wood’ form their take on a dreamy, head bobbing tone.
The Lips continue touring the festival circuit and won’t stop until mid October this year. Ottawa Bluesfest continues for another week, with plenty of local acts to catch sprinkled in throughout the headliners. You can catch our coverage of the event here, and make sure to tag your festival photos with the #apt613wknd hashtag for us to repost your adventures!