by Sarah Rayner
In the depths of Bethnal Green, amidst betting shops and off licences, as yet un-invaded by the in vogue crowds of Brick Lane and Shoreditch a stone’s throw from the location, Bethnal Green Working Man’s club has a certain amount of kitsch value and old school charm, and makes no effort to be anything that it’s not.
In these faded, stripped back, somewhat rank smelling surrounds there’s a homey, laid back feel to proceedings. This affable lack of pretension balanced comfortably with the mixed indie rock scenester East London audience. It was the sort of place where people could let go and forget about coiffing their beards, and tonight they certainly did.
Opening for Black Lips were last minute supports Dracula Legs who delivered loud, in-ornate, melodic rock n roll with good-natured handsome smiles and excited enthusiasm. A brief pause filled with Velvet Underground’s best hits (no doubt making up for McKulkins recent heinous crimes against their work), and the main act exploded onto the stage, opening with ‘Family Tree’.
The crowds wasted no time in surging to the front in an energetic, dancing, good natured crush – a mosh pit of smiles and sweat that would lull only in pauses between songs, whilst the boy and girls worked out which track was coming next, or to run away from a hefty looking crowd surfer.
The band were just as pumped up as the audience and delivered their generous set of blues infused tunes with hectic rocked up sweat and energy. The Atlanta foursome were in town for a run of two nights at Bethnal Green WMC. Comparing the fans to the previous night’s audience vocalist/guitarist Cole Alexander said ‘you guys are so much more punk!’ – in a good way he added.
After non-stop waves of crowd surfers, discarded t-shirts, a crushing dance pit and several shoes to the head (Cole gave his beer to one fan who was hit particularly hard), the audience proved him right, invading the stage on closing track ‘Bad Kids’. Rock n roll fever took hold and Cole was lifted onto shoulders and crowd surfed off and gracefully back on stage, a fan holding the mic for him to sing into – though the audience did a great job in filling in the vocals. The unpretentious camaraderie of the audience and artists, the friendly, laid back staff and of course the music all made this into one flawless and memorable evening of warm-hearted frenetic chaos – the way every gig should be.
Following high fives, kisses and hand shakes with band, the audience finally limped from the venue, bruises, sprains and sweat paying lasting testament to what was one hell of a great rock show.
The Black Lips latest full-length Underneath the Rainbow is out now on Vice Records.