Whenever there is a free show with free beer at House of Vans in Brooklyn, there seem to be cosmic forces at work. These forces make sure that if anyone gets to attend a free show with free hooch, the weather has to be absolutely terrible, just to make things even. Another sweaty-hot House of Vans show with thunder, lightening and a torrential downpour, leading to numerous slippery fluids slopping every inch of the floor. The private skatepark by day and venue by night was jam packed with a broed-out, flip flop-wearing crowd of tweens and older knuckleheads who were mainly interested in free beer, but were grateful that someone was onstage to entertain them.
The openers tonight were Night Beats from Seattle, Washington. With their tremolo and reverb turned up to 11, they played an energetic blend of garage rock. Really though, they sounded an awful lot like the headliners. The band was very intent on letting everyone in attendance know just how psychedelic they were by playing recorded poetry about wild drug trips, I think, in between songs. Not to mention that at one point the bassist exclaimed, “I am so fucked up on pills right now.” The crowd though, being on their eigth or ninth free beer, went absolutely apeshit during Night Beats. For a second it seemed as though this was a NYHC show or something. (Admittedly, they might’ve been set into ‘core motion by an actual hardcore band that played first, but I missed, the Jersey boys Night Birds). People were completely losing their shit, to the point where it was more entertaining than the band. One shirtless lad was so high on molly that he was jumping up down seemingly trying to grab the music. He was jumping his ass off while people ran around him in a circle beating the shit out of each other. Had I’d not known better I would think I was at a Madball concert in Staten Island.
Much to the dismay of everyone at the show, the free beer was temporarily cut off because of the crazy rain outside where the beer tents were being flooded, in more ways than one. Like a Christmas miracle, or the moment when the winning goal gets scored in The Mighty Ducks, the weather let up and the beer service was once again restored. Someone in the crowd let out a guttural scream, “BEEEEER,” and the entire crowd more or less left the room and went for the beer. After the majority of the crowd got themselves properly lubricated, the Black Lips hit the stage. These Atlantians are true touring machines who’ve been at it nonstop for about the last decade. They have reached a point in their musical career where you use the band’s name to describe a certain type of sound, (re: Night Beats, a 1/4 of the Burger roster). Love them or hate them, but the Black Lips have definitely left their mark on the garage-punk world that they exist in.
And even for old fans, tonight’s show was different than your usual Black Lips soiree. Longtime guitarist Ian St. Pe, known for his memorable grill that he often sported, is no longer with the band. Replacing him is former guitarist, and former member of NYC band the K-Holes, Jack Hines. Hines played with the band on some of their earlier albums. He was a member when the Black Lips were known more for their stage antics than their music. With Hines on board, the band played an extremely energetic set, even more so than usual. Hines in particular seemed to be having an absolute blast playing with his old bandmates again. They dipped into a lot of their earlier material tonight and played a wild set that whipped the crowd further into a frenzy. The Black Lips are a well-lubricated machine, and tonight they did not disappoint.
Photos by Keith Marlowe; words by Daniel Kelley.