20 years after their formation, the Atlanta flower punk band Black Lips are back on tour for their most recent album, Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art?, released in 2017. On Monday, October 21st, the group performed the second night of their Denver shows in Globe Hall, a self proclaimed “unpretentious saloon” for live music and Texas-style barbecue.
Denver based girl pop-punk trio, The Corner Girls, took the stage first. The trio delivered catchy, but ordinary tunes, most comparable to Cherry Glazerr, except much less original. Most noteworthy was The Corner Girls’ last song, in which front woman Breanna Ahlgren encouraged the small audience to chant the lines: “Who’s a better kisser? Me or my sister?” Howled in ironic beach grunge fashion, the lyrics came off especially ghoul-y. Just in time for Halloween!
Next up was The Blue Rose Rounders, a traditional country outfit from Los Angeles, California, who have been touring across the United States with Black Lips. The four piece group performed traditional country ballads in impeccably styled retro cowboy looks. Singer and songwriter, Emily Rose Epstein, fiercely crooned sad songs and traditional waltzes, pausing only to take swigs of her bourbon. The band performed several of their own songs, such as desperately love sick “December” as well as some covers, like an even more sarcastic version of Ernest Tubb’s “Thanks a Lot.” The group was also joined for a song by Black Lips drummer, Oakley Munson. The ballads were both sweet and gothic and they set the tone for the headliners.
Dressed in costumes ranging from puffer coat to leather bikini, five piece set Black Lips traipsed onto stage and opened without an introduction to a dazed audience. Although early on in their career, Black Lips made a name for themselves as an in-concert “performance art” piece, with live shows often including acts ranging from vomiting to making out, their Globe Hall performance was very muted. They alternated songs from 2017 record Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art? and more popular melodies from their earlier days, such as “Raw Meat,” “Family Tree” and “Drive By Buddy.” Songs from their newest album were less known and received with little enthusiasm. Even during their hit songs from their more hardcore days, the mosh pit was minimal and unemotional.
While the front-line of the audience repeatedly called out for Black Lips’ most popular track, “Bad Kids,” the group delivered a performance that veered off the flower punk path many seemed to anticipate. Instead of the grungy tunes they are known for, Black Lips continued the traditional country theme introduced by The Blue Rose Rounders with emphatically twangy versions of most of their songs, especially those off of the Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art? album. The band highlighted guitarist Jeff Clarke and Saxophonist Zumi Roscow in their slower, country songs. In these songs, the performances were exceptionally stellar.
At their Globe Hall concert, Black Lips’ younger and more chaotic punk energy seemed shifted to a mellower and more sorrowful country sound, signaling the band’s evolution. In interviews, group members have spoken about an upcoming country album. Black Lips’ Globe Hall performance was not thrilling and yet it was not disappointing. It was exciting to witness the group as they move on to a new genre.