The ascendancy of Atlanta four-piece Black Lips in recent months is emphatically illustrated tonight by the packed-out Barrowlands 2, indicating that they’ve picked up plenty of new converts since their relatively quiet show at the ABC last year – and despite fellow US hip young things Vampire Weekend playing elsewhere in the city tonight. Combined with the unusually hot weather, the crammed venue almost feels as though Glasgows East End has been transplanted to somewhere distinctly more southern – an apposite sensation, given the moreish marriage of Central American passion and burned-out garage rock that Black Lips blast out tonight.
The band appear supremely comfortable in their wielding of influences, which range from the atonal, spastic blues of the Magic Band to the juddering garage of middle-period Velvet Underground; to describe them as ‘assured’ , though, might be misleading, given their infectiously laid-back attitude, which reveals a calm and mature attitude towards the absurdities of the music industry. Rattling through the favourites from current album ‘Good Bad Not Evil’ , including exuberant call to arms ‘Bad Kids’ , a collision of psychobilly and doo-wop, and single ‘O Katrina!’- the addictive simplicity of which has already earned it the feel of surf-garage classic – Black Lips also have plenty of other material to draw on tonight.
Indeed, its indicative of their admirable work ethic that after five years, the band already have four studio albums and two blistering live albums to their name, with the result that they find themselves in the unusual position of being an Exciting New Band playing what feels like a Greatest Hits set; and that idiosyncratic attitude – hedonistic and industrious – sums up their appeal. While other bands dipping into such a diverse body of heavily-mined influences might find themselves accused of lacking a coherent identity, or of indulging in parodic worship of the past, Black Lips confidently stamp their own character upon the generic melee; and while others prioritize commercial success, they never forget the simple, fundamental pleasures of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, with the result that their music embodies them in a genuinely distinctive and authentic way.