words by Stephanie Emilienburg & photos by Andy Pareti
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After the bitter disappointment of missing the superb line up last week of headliner The Kills with opening acts Cold Cave and Entrance Band, I shifted my expectations and excitement for the dual delight of Black Lips with openers Vivian Girls. The weather has gotten to the point where you don't have to worry about being underdressed for the nighttime cold temperatures, and plenty of people were following the skimped-down unofficial dress code, all the better to jostle and jump around in.
This was my first time seeing Vivian Girls with their newest drummer, Fiona Campbell, and she steadily and capably kept up with singers and string pluckers Cassie Ramone and Katy Goodman throughout. As a white screen with sloppy graffiti spelling out (I think) "Awesome"and "Viv Grl" rose behind them, the trio pulled out "Can't Get Over You", followed by an entirely-new and surf-rock inspired tune. Ramone and Goodman's vocals worked terrifically together in fuzzy harmony, particularly on "Wild Eyes", but the highlight for me was indisputably "Take It As It Comes", a totally brilliant sixties girl group throwback. As a huge fan of the Shangri-las and many of the girl groups of that era, it was a pretty satisfying moment and a really fun part of the set. The girls played "Survival" and performed to a consistently rowdy audience until the set concluded a bit later. It was a nice, crowd-pleasing intro for the exhilaratingly-messy Black Lips.
The headliners took the stage with their typical energy of 100 firecrackers and ripped into "Sea of Blasphemy", a helpful fan tossing a beer to lead guitarist Ian Saint Pé afterward. Shortly after, the band played my favorite song from their catalog, "Dirty Hands", arguably the best track from their awesome "live" album, Los Valientes Del Mundo Nuevo (and earlier, Let It Bloom). This track had people lip synching and lightly air punching, which then got kicked up a few notches with the first notes of "Katrina", which unsurprisingly got the biggest crowd reaction of the night. Lead singer and bassist Jared Swilley took a moment to mention that, "It feels good to be in Austin when it's not South by Southwest," which was followed by a blunt and unflattering description by Saint Pé of the "record exec" types that saturate the festival.
On a lighter note and immediately after that aside, the guys pumped out "Veni Vidi Vici" and a raucous version of "Not A Problem". A killer rendition of King Khan & BBQ Show's "Too In Love With You" was met with a lot of applause, as was "Everybody's Doing It" and "Boomerang". The former was likely the pinnacle of the entire evening, though, and I'm happy that it was performed. You've got to hand it to Black Lips who, after 200 hundred million thousand shows (oh yeah), still bring the same level of hyperkinetic enthusiasm every time, practically guaranteeing you're going to have an amazing and probably pretty blurry time.
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