PSYCHEDELIC rock band Black Lips brought their headline tour to Manchester’s Gorilla on Friday night (May 20). Quays News entertainment reporter Beth Wilson went to run the rule over the Americans…

The Atlanta four-piece lived up to all expectations as promised by their newest album ‘Underneath The Rainbow’. The support came from two local Manchester bands Freakout Honey and Bones Shake with both showcasing why they deserved their spot on the bill.

First up was Freakout Honey who took a carefree approach to their performance. Despite this there was no lack of passion in their set as the band showed no shame in losing themselves in their sound – evidenced by the lead vocalist Sofia Sourianou’s sultry dancing.

It was clear that Freakout Honey took inspiration from Black Lips themselves with their garage-induced songs but they also had something unique about their sound which kept the crowd entranced throughout.

The relaxed atmosphere created by Freakout Honey was quickly transformed with the entrance of the second support act Bones Shake. Their scuzzy sound prepared the crowd perfectly for Black Lips but was also an astounding experience in itself.

Freakout Honey
Freakout Honey at Gorilla

It seemed as if Shake’s frontman was preaching as he sang his lyrics to the crowd and at one point he literally preached by reciting from the bible.

There was never time for the crowd to be bored as he jerked around the stage, compelling everyone to dance along. It was no surprise therefore that Shake ended their dynamic set by jumping into the crowd and singing directly to audience members.

Black Lips were welcomed eagerly by the anticipating crowd and proceeded to play a selection of songs from both their newest and older albums. The crowd became most energetic when they heard the openings of the upbeat anthems ‘Modern Art‘ and ‘O Katrina!‘ and by the time the band got to their most most popular song ‘Bad Kids‘ the crowd was uncontrollable.

The excitement of the crowd was to be expected as Black Lips in the past had seen themselves banned from numerous venues due to unruly crowds and disturbing onstage antics such as urination, nudity and even an incident involving a chicken.

The band therefore showed no surprise to frequent stage invasions from fans during their set. One individual could not resist repeatedly climbing on stage to then immediately dive off again. This did not deter the band, nor the crowd in fact, it encouraged them more with lead vocalist Jared Swilley himself helping someone up onstage.

Black Lips somewhat behaved themselves at this gig which despite maybe disappointing some fans came as a relief to others as they could remain confident that the band could return to Gorilla again in the future.

Black Lips worked alongside Budos Band and Dap Kings’ Tom Brenneck and The Black Key’s Patrick Carney for their newest album ‘Underneath The Rainbow’ which was released in 2014. The album, much like their previous ‘Arabia Mountain’, modernised their chaotic garage sound of the past to become a much more orderly, yet still somewhat dishevelled, masterpiece.

Moreover, despite Black Lips being an underground band their garage rock aesthetic has influenced many other artists such as Hinds, a Madrid-based four-piece. The similarities between the two are obvious when you listen to the Black Lips song ‘Dirty Hands‘ and much of Hinds newest album ‘Leave Me Alone’.

By the end of the gig spirits amongst both the band and their fans were high. The crowd remained and shouted for more even after the encore. Guitarist Cole Alexander came back out on stage to gather his equipment but instead he was met by a hoard of awaiting fans wanting to meet him.

The gig was an energetic experience, with the crowd having a constant rapport with the band; Black Lips’ effortlessly raucous performance was an unsurprising delight.

With an album released every two to three years in the past, a new album from the four-piece looks promising for the end of 2016 or early 2017 and with a decade long career behind them it is intriguing to see what Black Lips will pull out of the bag next!

By Beth Wilson

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