Garage rock defenders the Black Lips has charted an unlikely path to success in its 17 years of existence. The band got kick-started in 1999, when guitarist Cole Alexander and bassist Jared Swilley got kicked out of their Atlanta-area high school in the shadow of the Columbine shooting. There was no obvious reason for the expulsion other than the fact that they were hard enough to control to be considered threats-in-waiting.
Maybe these events contributed to the band’s consistent air of misunderstood, juvenile greasiness or maybe the musicians were just born to play the part. They did, after all, initially make their name with their out-of-control on-stage antics as well as their particular brand of Southern, Stones-y garage punk. Fuzzed-out guitars, howled vocals and the spectacle of Alexander vomiting on-stage recalled a mythical time when rock music’s primary concern was shocking the audience to life.
The band has matured since then (you probably won’t see Alexander vomiting anytime soon), but it has retained a sense of youthful menace.
The Black Lips perform at 9 p.m. Saturday in Nietzsche’s (248 Allen St.). Cost is $15 (Ticketmaster). Fittingly, the Black Lips will be joined by Chain and the Gang, the “crime rock” band led by Ian Svenonius. Svenonius’ decades of punk experience, highlighted by his time in Nation of Ulysses, paved the way for a band like the Lips to get this far with chips on its shoulder, and it’s something special to be able to catch both of them in one night.
– Daniel Bauer