Live Concert Photography: Black Lips with Warish and The Muckers at Music Hall of Williamsburg 2/24/20
The acclaimed Atlanta, GA-based garage punk act, Black Lips — currently, founding members Cole Alexander (vocals, rhythm guitar) and Jared Swilley (vocals, bass) along with Oakley Munson (drums) and Zumi Rosow (saxophone) — can trace their origins back to when its founders, Alexander and Swilley, along with Ben Eberbaugh (guitar) all left their previous bands — The Renegades and The Reruns
While they were both in high school, Alexander and Swilley had developed a reputation for crude antics during shows and at school. During their senior year, they were kicked out of school because they were considered a “subculture danger” post Columbine. The band’s first drummer Joe Bradley, who was in college when the band was formed, completed the band’s first lineup. Interestingly, the band’s debut, a 7 inch released in 2002 featured tracks from their Eric Gagnon-produced full-length debut, which was actually completed in 2000 — and the 7 inch featured tracks, which appear on their debut, “Juvenile” and “Ain’t Coming Back.”
Tragically, just a few days before the members of the band were to begin a tour, Eberbaugh was struck and killed by a drunk driver. The remaining members of the band decided that they should carry one, believing that bandmate would have wanted them to continue. And as a result, their full-length debut, 2003’s Black Lips!, was released as a tribute to their bandmate and his life. The album featured two tracks with Eberbaugh from the Eric Gagnon-produced sessions, “Stone Cold” and “Can’t Get Me Down.” Interestingly, “Stone Cold” was remastered with the channels flipped from the original two-track mix to avoid legal problems.
After Eberbaugh’s death, the band went through a series of lineup changes. Longtime friend Jack Hines joined the band for their sophomore album We Did Not Know the Forest Spirit Made the Flowers Grow. Hines left in 2004 and was replaced by Ian St. Pe. who at the time was studying music at the University of Memphis as a music major —and during St. Pe’s tenure with the band, they had developed a national profile, receiving coverage from Spin, Rolling Stone and The New York Times as a result of their rough and gritty pastiche of blues, rock, doo-wop, country and punk.
The band began 2007 with Los Valientes del Mundo Nuevo, an effort that over the years has been viewed with some controversy. Purportedly recorded at a Tijuana, Mexico bar with a soundboard, microphones and a computer placed strategically near the stage by acclaimed punk rocker John Reis, musicians, journalists and even their fans have argued that the album was recorded in a studio. They ended the year with the release of Good Bad But Not Evil and their national late night TV debut on Late Night with Conan O’Brien where they played “O Katrina.”
Building upon a rapidly growing national and international profile, The Black Lips made their British television debut on BBC 3‘s The Wall, where they played “Bad Kids.” Later that year, a portion of “Veni Vidi Vici” appeared in an episode of ABC’s Dirty Sexy Money. According to the band, “Veni Vidi Vici” was close to be in used in an ad campaign for the British supermarket chain Tesco — but the company was concerned about the song’s lyrical content and went in another direction.
2009, The Black Lips went one a tour of India that included a Chennai show that had the members of the band worried that they would get arrested and imprisoned for alleged homosexual acts. So instead of finishing the tour, the band quickly left the country and wound up in Berlin, where they recorded an album of gospel-influenced songs with the influential garage act King Khan and BBQ Show under the name Almighty Defenders. Continuing an extraordinarily busy run, the band went to Decatur, GA‘s New Street Studio to record that year’s fifth album 200 Million Thousand. The band then supported the album with 122 shows across the United States and the European. Also that year, they were featured in the documentary film, We Fun: Atlanta, GA Inside Out, which debuted at that year’s Atlanta Film Festival.
Since 2009, Black Lips have released a handful of records including 2010’s Mark Ronson-produced album Arabia Mountain, 2014’s Underneath the Rainbow, 2017’s Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art and their most recent release, this year’s aptly titled Sing In A World That’s Falling Apart. Earlier this year, The Black Lips toured to support their latest effort and it included a sweaty, career-spanning headlining show at Music Hall of Williamsburg earlier this year. Southern California-based JOVM mainstays and headbangers Warish and the New York-based Persian act The Muckers opened. Check out photos from that show below.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Southern California-based punk trio Warish. The trio which features founding duo Riley Hawk (guitar, vocals) and Bruce McDonnell can trace their origins to its founding duo’s mutual desire to try their hand at something a bit more distinct than what they had previously done: “We wanted to do simpler riffs and a fun live show,” the band’s Riley Hawk explains in press notes. “A little more punk, a little bit grunge . . . a little evil-ish.”
RidingEasy Records released their first two EPs, which helped the band quickly establish a reputation for crafting mosh pit friendly rippers with an aggressively sleazy Troma Films inspired vibe that sonically seemed to draw from early Butthole Surfers, Scratch Acid, Incesticide-era Nirvana, Static Age-era Misfits and others.
Building upon a growing profile, the band released their full-length debut, last year’s Down In Flames last year, which featured one of my favorite singles of the year, the menacing, mosh pit friendly ripper “Healter Skelter.” Since the release of the album, the trio had been busily touring to support the album. During the second half of last year, the JOVM mainstays toured with Acid King — and then went on another tour leg the with Black Lips that included their MHOW set, centered around the material off their debut.
The Muckers — founding members Emir Mosheni (guitar, vocals) and Antony Azarmgin (bass, vocals) and John Zimmerman (drums) — opened the night. Formed in Tehran, Iran in 2014, the band’s founding members relocated to New York in 2017, where quickly cut their teeth honing their sound, which draws from 60s psych rock and 70s funk. Shortly after playing their first Stateside tour, the band’s founding duo met Zimmerman, who wound up completing the band’s lineup. Within a short period of time, the rising New York-based act has opened for an eclectic array of acclaimed acts including Jacuzzi Boys, BOYTOY, The Mystery Lights,The Nude Party and Shannon and The Clams. Then they went into the studio to record a batch of material with Lucas Carpenter, recorded in between Stateside tours. After a three week national tour, the band added their fourth and latest member Chris Cawley. Since then, the band signed to Modern Sky USA and their highly anticipated EP is forthcoming.