Thursday, December 2, 2021

The Black Lips @ Trabendo, Paris - December 2nd, 2021

The reformed bad boys of garage rock have been on a country tangent since the release of their excellent new record Sing in a World That's Falling Apart. But their version of country music is very informed by the seedy, druggy sounds of the Velvet Underground and they end up sounding like murky, punk version of Exile-era Rolling Stones, or Royal Trux attempting Americana, or an even more chaotic version of the Clash. Needless to say, that's a good thing.

On stage, they're still as shambolic as ever but, inevitably, a semblance of professionalism has crept in. That's also a good thing. The edge, the danger, the abrasiveness are still there but are delivered in a much more efficient package, and the songs are all the more potent for it. Attending a Black Lips show in 2021 is a bit like watching Roy Orbison in the world of Gummo: a fascinating sideshow of inescapable violence and raw emotion. The payoff is in how they navigate the contradictions between noise and melody,  aggression and emotion, brutality and softness.

A cathartic rock n'roll pageant that takes place in the audience as much as it does on the stage, this show was the polar opposite of the last one I attended. One of the beauties of rock music is that it encompasses all those extremes.

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