Beer pulsing through my veins. Beer-soaked shirt stuck to my sweat-stained skin. Cans of beer raining down, replacing beach balls for the traditional aerial concert debris. The mosh pit swallowed us up and grabbed us by the balls and released us through flailing limbs. The Black Lips soundtracking a gritty mess below their equally soaked bodies, dodging wayward cans of cheap beer in the process. Screens clad with naked women in gas masks served as our twisted, garage-rock goddesses above.
Atlanta-based, all-female rock group the Coathangers lubed up the Rickshaw with a heavy set filled mostly with tunes from their recent release, Suck My Shirt. Everyone was impressed by the catchy, hard rock tunes thrown down by the trio. I heard, on a few occasions by different guys, how they would have to make the drummer (Rusty Coathanger) their wife. I, personally, would have chosen the guitarist (Crook Kid Coathanger), but I digress.
On a few occasions the girls played musical chairs with each other, switching up instruments every two or three songs. I always enjoy when a group can do this. A great display of musicianship and trust between bandmates.
Despite a few fans’ attempts to start a mosh pit, it didn’t work. Nonetheless, still an impressive, perfect opening act.
Smoke break. The theatre empties into a clouded stretch of sidewalk.
Line up for beer. Pull out a crumpled purple bill. A ten. Grab two cans. Shove one in a pocket for later, if possible.
Again, hailing from Atlanta, the Black Lips hit the stage in support of their newest album, Underneath the Rainbow. Opening the set with “Family Tree” off of 2011’s Arabia Mountain set the tone for what was to be the most rockin’ and rollin’ show I’d ever seen. Even the fuzz ballad “Dirty Hands” from 2005’s Let it Bloom (arguably, their best record to date) had the crowd bumping into each other at a fever pace. Songs from the new album were peppered between old favourites. “Boys in the Wood” stood out as the crowd favourite, with people doing the weighted, collective lean to the gritty jam.
Band members climbed the speakers. Pockets of joint smoke popped up from various points in the theatre. Beer cans were thrown from above, below and side to side, hitting unsuspecting moshers with a spray and a clink. It was controlled hooliganism at its finest. Calculated chaos, if you will. Even the balcony was bouncing. Meanwhile, the Black Lips spewed “Raw Meat” into the crowd.
Last time the Black Lips played a gig in Vancouver the Stanley Cup riots took place. Jared Swilley challenged the crowd to top the rowdiness levels of that night. A tall task, but I think we did exceedingly well for a Thursday night. Even for a weekend night. Fists pumping, knees jumping, bodies surfing (and, thumping), joking, fog machine smoking, and lots, lots, lots of sweating. Sweaty boys, sweaty girls, twirling around without a care in the world.
The Black Lips played four songs for an encore, instead of the traditional two or three – a tall sign that the band, like the crowd, were just having too good of a fucking time to part ways. The night was stretched out to its thinnest possible. The last song finished to our discontent. Yet we knew the night had to end at some point.
The crowd filtered out back onto the clouded sidewalk. Buzzing with glee.