Live: The Black Lips Bring Hell To Webster Hall


The Black Lips w/Davila 666, Xray Eyeballs
Webster Hall
Saturday, October 29

Better than: The overpriced coat check.

Here’s the thing about Black Lips shows: They’re completely out of control as a rule. Playing Webster Hall on Saturday for their “Hell in the Hall” All Hallow’s Eve celebration, the Atlanta quartet was ready to party, and the mostly costumed audience was in similar spirits. The band’s homemade backdrop—a white sheet covered in spraypainted Satanic symbols that had horror movies projected onto it—and streamers and fog machines brought a DIY aesthetic that helped set the stage and make Webster Hall seem much more down-home than than it usually is.

Saturday night, the Lips were dressed as police officers ready to lay down the law, although the idea of what those laws might regulate was a bit flexible. The loaded rendition of “Sea of Blasphemy” that kicked off their set drew the crowd into a dance-mosh pit almost instantly. While the band’s back catalog—including “Stone Cold,” from their 2003 debut—was well-represented, the set also drew on the Lips’ latest, Mark Ronson-produced album Arabia Mountain. The songs on that record have more melody and pop structure than the band’s previous work, but that didn’t stop newer tracks like “Family Tree” and “Noc-a-Homa” from inspiring as much pandemonium as the classics. (The eerie, Halloween-appropriate “Hippie Hippie Hoorah,” meanwhile, got the crowd to calm down for a bit.)

Throughout the show, half-wrapped mummies, ghosts and other masked creatures would come on stage to throw toilet paper and rubber chickens into the crowd. The throwback “O Katrina!” really got everyone going, with throngs of people hopping on stage to dance, sing and have their own turn to play fetch; some people tried overtaking the band and stealing their microphones, only to have their plans foiled. (Security tried regulating, but seemed to eventually give up as long as no one outdanced their welcome.) Singer and bassist Jared Swilley also decided to mingle, walking into the crowd for a guitar solo.

One lady fan even made it on stage long enough to make out with Swilley and singer and guitarist Cole Alexander, the latter of whom told the crowd afterwards that he felt as if he’d been molested. The two later completed the triangle during Good Bad Not Evil‘s “Bad Kids,” kissing each other as the crowd yelled along with the debauched lyrics.

Critical bias: Who doesn’t love The Black Lips?

Overheard: “Is she wearing underwear?!”

Random notebook dump: The Puerto Rican six-piece Davila 666 was a more than suitable opener, pumping up the crowd with a surprising but nonetheless well-done cover of Blondie’s cover of The Nerves’ “Hanging on the Telephone.”

Set list:
Sea of Blasphemy
Family Tree
Jack the Ripper
Dirty Hands
O Katrina!
Make It
Modern Art
Raw Meat
New Direction
Stone Cold
Go Out And Get It
Wild Man
Dumpster Dive
Fairy Stories
Bad Kids
+ encore