The Black Lips at Turf Club, 4/27/14

Categories: Last Night
Erik Hess

The Black Lips
with Natural Child
Turf Club, St. Paul
Sunday, April 27, 2014

With all of the shiny new plastic popping up in St. Paul's broad-shouldered Midway neighborhood, rock 'n' roll relics like the Turf Club become even more vital. In just about a month, the landmark venue will close for much-needed renovations on First Avenue's dime. Here's hoping we get in a few more rowdy, sweaty shows like the one The Black Lips brought last night before they fix the AC.

See also:
Slideshow: Black Lips at Turf Club, 4/27/14

Atlanta's Black Lips are the kind of rough and ready punk band that lives best when they're on their way off the rails and taking the crowd along with them. Rolling into town too late to make sound-check, the boys had to get by with a quick, 30-second dust-off in front of an already well-primed sold-out audience. Apologizing with a laconic drawl, the four-piece cranked up the feedback to begin "Sea of Blasphemy," reminiscent of the Retards' cacophonous guitars. A quick segue to their poppier newish material followed, as the boys took a spirited run through the first two tracks on 2011's stellar Arabia Mountain. "Family Tree" made for a great opening unifier, with the 'Lips propulsive energy ripping a hole in front of the stage for the mosh pit to open.

Erik Hess

The rest of the night would see the increasingly drunk but high-functioning Black Lips shuffle through fresh tracks from Underneath the Rainbow while peppering their set with "oldies but stinkies" (to quote bassist Jared Swilley) like "Dirty Hands." That song's rambling spoken section, featuring lines about a dolphin belly-button tattoo, sounded more natural when slurred into the milieu of the band's shambolic live sound, and the same can be said of brand new songs like "Drive-By Buddy." With a riff that would have made Tom Petty proud, the song's punk roots shone through at the Turf in a way that Rainbow's cleaner production simply couldn't capture. Same goes for lead single "Boys in the Wood," which tends to drag on-record but thrives as a meandering, menacing slow-burner onstage. With a halfhearted puffing from a lonely little smoke machine, and some low-rent light effects, the song even managed to conjure some backwoods mysticism.

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