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Timothy Finn blogs about the Kansas City music scene

Black Lips put on a rambunctious garage-rock revival

05/01/2014 2:11 PM

05/04/2014 8:27 PM

The Black Lips are a no frills rock ’n’ roll band, a quartet that indulges in the primal charms of raged, melodic and high-speed songs that draw their vibe from punk and garage rock.

Wednesday night the band delivered a high-energy set inside the Riot Room, which wasn’t sold out but was as full as it needed to be. From the opener, “Family Tree,” from their 2011 album, “Arabia Mountain,” to “Bad Kids,” from 2007’s breakthrough “Good Bad Not Evil,” the Atlanta band sustained a manic pace that had most of the crowd bouncing in place, pumping fists and singing along throughout the show.

The set list drew from all over the band’s 10-year, seven-album discography, going back to “Let It Bloom,” released in 2005. No matter the year, however, the Black Lips’ sound is consistent, especially live, when it is reduced to riff-happy guitars, percussion and vocals. Their stage show, which has a reputation for decadence (and the issuance of bodily fluids) was rowdy but relatively tame, though, given the sight lines for the Riot Room stage, which are tough for anyone not right up front. I had a hard time seeing much of what was going on.

The mood in the place was consistently manic, but there were outbursts for several songs, especially “O Katrina” and the one-two-three punch of “New Direction,” “Stuck in My Mind” and “Not a Problem.” Other highlights: the poppy “Smiling” and “Not a Problem,” which rides a Zombies vibe. Also on the set list: “Dirty Hands,” “ Boys in the Wood” and “Lock and Key.”

Most refreshing, however, was watching a crowd indulge in nuts-and-bolts rock ’n’ roll, music unvarnished and unfortified with synthesized gimmicks, stripped down to its ragged, bare essentials: invigorating rhythms, catchy melodies and raw vocals sweetened with harmonies.

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