Monday night's sold out show at the Bowery Ballroom consisted of three loud bands; Panthers, Black Lips, and The Ponys. And as much as I'd like to talk about all three bands that played, my lack of funds, need for cheap food, and the lack of staff at such places that carry the food I so desperately needed resulted in an extra long stay at a Lower East Side Mexican restaurant. I missed Panthers. I'm sorry. Let's talk about the other two bands.
Atlanta's Black Lips are one of those bands that you hope never really learn to play their instruments well. You hope they never hire a producer to clean up their sound. You hope they stay locked up in your favorite shit bar playing to 30 people a night and you desperately pray that that they will always stay your little dark secret. But hell, there's no way that can happen. They're too damn good. They're destined to turn your town upside down and laugh in your face after it happens. But don't worry; you'll still love them. Their sexy garage rock sounds as though it comes from a damp basement lit by a single light bulb. It's dirty, raw, untamed, and so pleasantly catchy that it's impossible not to fall in love. But loving The Black Lips is scary. You know it's right, but it feels wrong. Don't turn your head though. You might miss the puke, the piss, the sweat, or most importantly, their sloppy yet irresistible music.
The Black Lips zipped through most of the tunes from Let It Bloom, which you can hear in live form on their new live album, Los Valientes del Mundo Nuevo. Songs like "Sea of Blasphemy," "Boomerang," "Dirty Hands," and "Katrina" are so instantly likeable and short (most clocking in around two minutes) that while wishing there was more of each hook or chorus, by the time the next song has started, you really don't care. As disgusting as it was to see Cole Alexander, one of the band's guitarist and singers, puke halfway through the set, it seemed so fitting and natural that it would have seen odd if he hadn't. See them for yourself and marvel in it. You'll know what I mean. They're one of the best bands out there right now. No question.
The Ponys are no different. While the comparison might seem cliché at this point, The Chicago band really does sound like they listen to Daydream Nation on repeat. Bad thing? Hell no. Wonderful thing. It's loud, and catchy, chaotic and controlled, and it's everything that made early 90's rock so damn good. Hell, lead singer Jared Gummere was even wearing a long sleeve shirt under a t-shirt. That look desperately needs to come back.
"Poser Psychotic" is one of my favorite tracks so far this year and it was great to see an audience respond so well to a set made up of songs from a new album. Turn The Lights Out is a damn fine piece of work and The Ponys played it with extra punch, much more aggressiveness, and lots and lots of silly string. (They handed it out to the audience and the four band members had lots of it in their hair by the end of the night.) All of the noise and the hooks are the ones that take a few listens to "get," but everyone knows that it's the bands that make music like this that are the ones who become your favorites. Thank you Chicago.
Photos by Daniel Arnold