The Black Lips at Fitzgerald's, 9/11/14
Photos by Nicholas Zalud
Black Lips, King Khan and BBQ Show Fitzgerald's September 11, 2014
Summer may be officially over in Houston, but that didn't stop Thursday night's crowd at Fitzgerald's from turning in one of the sweatiest shows of the year. Hell, when the Black Lips are in town, sweat should be the least of your worries. The Atlanta four-piece once cultivated a reputation for vomiting, pissing and swapping spit on stage, all (well, mostly) in the name of entertainment. These days they're better known for their raucous garage-rock tunes, but the threat of wild unpredictability still hangs in the air at their shows, urging their fans on to mayhem lest the band resort to ralphing once more.
Regurgitation wouldn't be necessary on Thursday. The bill was too good. There can't be too many better fits with the Black Lips than the Montreal duo King Khan & BBQ Show, who were greeted with nearly as much enthusiasm as the headliners by the crammed-in crowd.
Fitz was already completely full when the colorfully dressed band made their entrance: King Khan wore spangled briefs and a cape; BBQ a strange, apelike hairsuit with nipples. Both were masked, wigged and extremely hard to ignore.
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"What we need from you is energy, love, hate, sausages, love and something or other," BBQ (Mark Sultan) told the jam-packed audience. "Let's do a song, let's do a dance, let's have some fun."
The crowd was more than ready to comply, exploding into a joyous riot of pogoing and dancing as BBQ stomped out a beat on the drums and King Khan shimmied his way through scantily-clad surf solos. Mixing a few scatological ditties in with a gang of silly little love songs, the band's garage-rock oeuvre was refreshingly free of clattering cymbals.
Everything was propelled along, instead, by the duo's jangling guitars and Beatles-on-acid harmonizing. With every tune, the cheers seemed to get a little louder until the entire, sweat-slicked room was solidly in their corner.
By the time Khan broke out the Chuck Berry duck-walk, it was clear that the Black Lips would have their work cut out for them following the Show's glam-punk garage. Luckily, the Lips have never been known to back down from a challenge. As the lights went down, the howls went up, and the floor at Fitz began to roil with excitement.
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Almost immediately, the garage quartet was sweating intensely on stage as the temperature in the building continued to rise precipitously. Red and blue lights strobed wildly like police cars at a crime scene as the group bashed out stomping, early rock and roll tunes with maximum punk attitude. It was a cacophony of jangling guitar strings and pounding drums, but there was also a certain twang buried in the mix that went over big with the Texas crowd, getting toes tapping in whatever space could be found.
Up on the balcony, folks were bobbing and dancing with abandon as the Lips rocketed through their uptempo set. Ladies' lovingly constructed hairdos became sweaty buns in a flash. Performing in front of a florid bedsheet, the Black Lips kept the energy high for more than an hour, bouncing and strutting across the stage as they struggled to stay hydrated behind those vintage guitars.
The sheer volume of beer cans flying through the air were proof enough that the audience's thirst was certainly being slaked. They screamed along to "O Katrina!" and hoisted each other up for some quality crowd surfing during "Hippie, Hippie, Hoorah" and other hot numbers. And brother, once the surfers were up and riding the waves, they stayed up -- the floor was so crowded that there simply nowhere to fall.
When the band finally wrapped up their energetic onslaught and said their goodbyes, the restless crowd seemed all too reluctant to let them leave. With summer already beginning to fade into memory, who knows how many more chances we'll get to party balls-out in 2014?
As concertgoers streamed out of the sweltering Fitz and on to the steamy Houston streets, the heat just wouldn't dissipate. We may well be stewing all the way until the next show. Here's hoping it's as much fun as this one was.
Personal Bias: Garage? I ain't even got a carport.
The Crowd: Young, and ready to start the weekend a day early.
Overheard in the Crowd: "Hey man, can you move over a little bit?" "Not really..."
Random Notebook Dump: Pogoing remains the platonic ideal for punk crowd participation. I tip my hat to last night's crowd for keeping it fun and loose all night.
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