Lightning Bolt was smartly playing early at the MOCAD. No tour-only vinyl at the merch table bummed me out, but there was a large selection of weirdo Wolf Eyes limited items. Tempting, but…
The show was everything I had expected. The duo set up on the floor with an impressive wall of amps and speakers behind them. They thrashed and the crowd frothed. There were no surprises. They did not play "Hello Morning" or "Assassins" the only two songs of theirs I would've recognized.
Should I have been in the pit with sweaty, stinky punks all rubbing up on me? Maybe that's the way to truly experience the Bolt. Nevertheless, I was completely satisfied with their performance without being overwhelmed. The show was impressive without being particularly noteworthy.
Meanwhile, back at the Magic Stick…
I didn't see enough of the Terrible Twos to say anything one way or another. I can say that I dig the band and that their "Plunderball" single is tits. They need more jams out soon.
The Black Lips were splendid. While "Oh Katrina" was sped-up to the point of losing its edge, the rest of their set was immaculate. New songs like "Bad Kids" and the one that re-appropriated the bass line of the Germs "Shut Down" were showing these good ole' boys know how to write 'em. They've yet to get worse and that's a lot less common than you'd think.
The biggest surprise for me was the crowd. Granted, I missed the last time the Lips played in town, but this crowd seemed almost the complete opposite of what I was used to seeing at their Detroit shows. There were a ton of young folks freaking out like it was the Beatles in '64. This is most likely due to their heightened visibility since inking with Vice, a questionable move at first that has found them followed by a New York Times film crew at SXSW and being interviewed for MTV News by John Norris.
So let it be said: The next Black Lips record (supposedly already recorded and set for a September release) will be huge. The current "live" album on Vice is a refresher course, a way to catch everyone up on the first 5 years of the band. Leaving "Katrina" off the disc is wise as it has the potential to be an explosive single. And with the Vice hype machine running at full-throttle, the Lips may soon all be wiping their butts with hundred dollar bills.
And did you see all the kids in striped t-shirts? Seriously there were like 15 kids running around in what seemed to be the same damn shirt. Is this the new fashion trend? Black Lips singer Cole was even wearing a surf-style breast-pocket striped tee (albeit backwards) and he said everyone is following their lead. I'm equally bummed and geeked because 1) I kinda don't want to wear my striped shirts now but 2) they still look badass and I'll probably wear 'em anyway.
I wasn't sure what to expect from the Ponys. Heard mixed opinions about their new disc Turn Out the Lights and was worried that while Brian Case's replacement of Ian Adams was smooth in the live forum, his work on tape would be too drastic a departure.
I was thoroughly wowed. While Adams pop-slant coloring made songs like "Shadowbox" and "I'm With You" smash hits in the Ponys pantheon, his exit has opened the gate for Case and Jered Gummere to volley riffery as Chicago's answer to Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore.
Asked to me during the Ponys' set: "Is this a Sonic Youth song? It really sounds like one." So while some may be bummed and others confused, the bend we find the Ponys on is an inspiring new direction. Big ups for taking the chance and big thanks for not fucking it up.
The Ponys are as great as they've ever been. Beginning the set with a chunk of songs all off the new record is a ballsy yet decisive move. Easy call would be to slip the unfamiliars here-and-there throughout the set and satiate the crowd with the oldies they know and want. What they did was force the crowd to absorb the new vibe right away and without relief. And when they did bring out the classics like "Let's Kill Ourselves" and the perfect encore of "I Wanna Fuck You" the crowd reaction was that much more explosive.
Am I the only one who's sick of standing up at shows? Maybe I don't wear the proper footwear, maybe the floor isn't professionally calibrated for minimal stress on the legs, but for some reason I always want to sit (or preferably, lay) down at shows and just be comfortable. I'm not sure if this is affecting my appreciation for the music or not. As uncool as it may seem, I don't give a shit. What's the point of being uncomfortable?