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The Black Lips @ The Observatory 6/20/17. Photo by Hector Vergara (@theHextron) for www.BlurredCulture.com.
Black Lips @ The Observatory 6/20/17. Photo by Hector Vergara (@theHextron) for www.BlurredCulture.com.

Santa Ana, CA- Following their 2014 release of Underneath The Rainbow, the beloved cult rock band Black Lips released their 9th studio album, Satans Graffiti or Gods Art? earlier this year.  During the three year gap between records, the band still managed to come through the Southern California area a few times and once again returned to The Observatory stage with a new live line up and a collection of new material that returned to their earlier, trashier garage rock sound that their hard core fans love so much.

Opening the set was the 2005 song “Sea Of Blasphemy” followed by the fan favorite “Modern Art”. Right from the get go, the crowd was moshing, crowd surfing and jumping off the railings into the main area of the pit. When the band began playing one of their biggest hits, “Oh Katrina”, countless toilet paper rolls came flooding from backstage and into the crowd in true Black Lips fashion. It was an amazing sight to see but it apparently, not everyone was having it.

I can’t even begin to count the number of rock shows I’ve been to at The Observatory, but I do have to say that their security staff that night was by far the most aggressive I have ever witnessed. Typically when a crowd surfer reaches the front and is about to come over the barricade, guards will help the person down, then point them towards the exit of the security pit … but not on this night. Instead they were reaching over the kids in the front and grabbing the crowd surfers by the legs then violently pulling them in  causing them to hit floor on the other side of the barricade. It was barbaric. At one point I saw, not one, but two guards yanking on some teenager’s leg prompting Jack Hines (guitar/vocals) to- intervene in the middle of the song after which the entire crowd cheered.

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Black Lips have a history of standing up against venue security (even causing a bit of a riot one night in London) but the rest of the night was smooth sailing. The set list included many songs off the new record such as “Occidental Front”, “The Last Cul De Sac”, and “Rebel Intuition” but also expanded across every single one of their nine albums playing just about every hit the crowd wanted to hear. I was a bit let down by the exclusion of perhaps their biggest song “Bad Kids” but after doing some research I discovered that the old drummer, Joe Bradley, was the one that sang the song, so hats off to the band for not replacing his vocals.

By now it’s safe to say that the crazier days of Black Lips are probably, for the most part, behind them. Gone are the days of excessive on stage puking, roaming farm animals, the use of genitalia in place of guitar picks, and other insane antics that the band used to display while performing … but that isn’t to say that the band is becoming boring. They just seem to have grown up a bit. The songs sound tighter and the years that they have put in have only enhanced what they can do.

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