Black Lips at Marty’s on Newport

Black Lips @ Marty's on Newport

Black Lips return to their wild roots with a rowdy, intimate bar show, showcasing new country-inspired songs and old favorites.

Atlanta’s “flower punk” rockers Black Lips are currently on the road on a co-headlining tour with Danish punk band Iceage, supported by Brooklyn-based punk band Surfbort. The tour kicked off on November 5th in Vancouver, British Columbia and continued down the west coast, including five California dates. As is apparently customary for me (I did the same thing in 2015), I chose to see my favorite band twice: first in Tustin, then in San Diego. While the San Diego show was sufficiently fun and memorable, the show in Tustin felt like the kind of special night that I might not get to experience again anytime soon.

When Black Lips announced this fall tour in June, I researched the venues for other Southern California dates to decide if the House of Blues in San Diego on November 13th would suffice as the lone date I’d attend. Marty’s on Newport in Tustin, California on November 11th stood out to me. I’d never heard of the place, and my only connection to Tustin was stopping at a Denny’s there on the way to Los Angeles in February. Some Google searches quickly revealed to me that Marty’s has a capacity of 150, and is basically just a bar that somehow manages to book pretty well-known touring bands. I bought my ticket the minute they went on sale.

Fast forward to November and I was curious about what this show at Marty’s would actually be like. Upon arriving to the venue just after 8:00, I realized that Marty’s is, in fact, just a bar. It’s located in an old strip mall next to a nail salon and an Indian grocery store. Parking is scarce, and various Yelp reviews warn that parking in the other businesses’ spots will result in a tow and a $375 charge. Yikes. Once inside, however, Marty’s felt intimate and homey. The u-shaped bar takes up a decent amount of the already-small space, and there are four or five booths along the back wall. It reminded me of the single bar in my small, northern British Columbia hometown, where classic rock cover bands rule the stage and you know 75% of the people on the dance floor. Throughout the night, members of all three bands on the night’s bill could be observed wading through the slowly-growing crowd. I pulled up a stool at the bar and kept a careful watch on “my” (mentally reserved for me, by me) front-row-center spot in front of the stage, which stood at knee-level for me and shin level for taller folks. There were no barricades or security in sight – be still, my heart.

Just before 9:00 I took my spot against the stage, and Surfbort began shortly after. Lead vocalist Dani Miller’s sequined hot pants and suit jacket covered in pornographic images were immediately eye-catching, and the photographers descended upon the front row (no photo pit here, either) to get their shots. Surfbort’s music is loud and effervescent, pure punk fun complemented by Miller’s dancing and gesticulations. The band recently released their debut full-length record, Friendship Music, and we were treated to a lot of their new songs during the half-hour set.

After a short break (quick turnaround between bands, a major benefit of a small venue), Iceage began their set. I think the sound was a little off, as Elias Ronnenfelt’s vocals were sometimes difficult to make out. Regardless, the music sounded great, with Iceage’s vaguely post-punk sound getting the crowd moving. The area directly in front of Ronnenfelt was somewhat of a danger zone, as the lead vocalist slipped a few times and nearly fell into the crowd. There was also a close call with his mic and my face towards the end of their set, but thankfully I was uninjured and Ronnenfelt made sure of this before continuing. All in all, Iceage provided an exciting experience to go along with their music. What’s a punk show without a little danger?

Around 11:15, Black Lips took the stage amid cheers from the tightly packed crowd. Vocalist and bassist Jared Swilley addressed us with his usual greeting, “We’re the Black Lips from Atlanta, Georgia. Thank y’all for coming out!”, as the first notes of “Can’t Hold On” (from 2017’s Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art?) rang out. The moshpit opened up behind me soon after and it remained there for the rest of the night. I’d spend the next hour getting jostled around by the 21+ crowd that could still bring the rowdiness I usually only see at all-ages shows.

“O Katrina”, “Dirty Hands”, “Family Tree”, and “Stranger”, all staples at a Black Lips show, were met with the expected enthusiasm and singing along. Songs from their upcoming country record, including “Delia”, “Georgia”, and “Gentleman”, were well-received and gave some indication of the new sound Black Lips is exploring. In the end, songs from seven of the band’s eight full-length records were played, leaving out any selections from 2009’s 200 Million Thousand. It’s not their most well-known or commercially successful record, but I’d love to see “Drugs” make its way onto their setlist again. Also curiously missing from the night’s setlist was “Sea of Blasphemy” from 2005’s Let It Bloom, which the band often opens with. However, I suppose as more songs get added to the rotation, some unfortunately have to be retired.

Throughout the night, the band seemed to be in very good spirits, and I had a feeling this was the closest I would ever get to the wild, messy, sloppy Black Lips shows of yesteryear that I’ve only read about. Mic stands fell, caught by the hands of fans and the feet of the band. Necks of guitars swung out dangerously close to faces in the front row. Beers on stage were spilled, beers in the crowd were thrown. I was propelled forward onto the stage countless times, landing in a push-up position with my knees slamming into the sharp edge of the stage. Over a week later and I still have the bruises.

At the conclusion of any show, literally the only thing in the world I ever want is water. The leftover, unopened bottles of water that littered the stage called out to me as beacons of hope. Perhaps my adoring gaze was obvious, because as Black Lips’ tour manager Matt Williams cleared the stage of bottles and cans before the encore, he handed a full bottle of water right to me. I’ve never felt more VIP (and hydrated) in my life. I then reached over and took a setlist, because I’m a selfish person. You have to go after what you want, you see.

As I enjoyed my free water and ignored the throbbing in my heavily bruised knees, Black Lips returned to the stage for a couple more songs. As the crowd shouted out their requests, I was in the perfect position to make mine to Jared. “Wild Man!” I called out, referring to the 1967 single by the Tamrons – it’s one of my favorite songs that the band plays live. “Yeah, we’re going to play that one!” he replied, to which I visibly swooned (hand against chest, eyes up towards the sky). Be still, my heart. After “Wild Man”, which was as fun as I’d remembered, the band launched into “Bow Down and Die”, a song they’d recorded and released as The Almighty Defenders, a garage rock/gospel supergroup with King Khan and Mark Sultan of The King Khan & BBQ Show. And with that, they were gone, likely off to Los Angeles to prepare for their show at the Regent Theater the following night.

I’m usually happy with the size of venues that Black Lips plays, and their shows are always a great time. However, I don’t know that a band that’s reached the level of success and notoriety that Black Lips has will play many more 150-capacity bars. For this reason, their show at Marty’s on Newport will forever hold a special place in the already-large part of my heart reserved for Black Lips.

Black Lips Setlist Etc.

KCR recently spoke to vocalist and bassist Jared Swilley in advance of this tour. Check out that interview here.

Written by: Andrea Renney

Treasure Island Music Festival Highlights

A celebration of music, art, and Bay Area culture – the best way to describe Treasure Island Music Festival.

Located in Oakland, CA, Treasure Island Music Festival (TIMF) recently hosted their 11th annual music and arts festival with over 23,500 total attendees across two days. As an avid festival-goer myself, I will admit that my expectations were high for my first time attending TIMF. In the years past, the festival was located on Treasure Island itself. This year, TIMF decided to give the crowd an even better experience by moving the festival to Middle Harbor Shoreline Park. Not only did the new location provide an eccentric beach vibe in mid-October weather, but you also had an unbelievable view of the San Francisco skyline no matter where you were. Produced by both Noise Pop and Another Planet Entertainment, TIMF has grown to become one of the West-Coast’s most favored music festivals for many reasons.

DAY ONE: Hip-hop, House, & High-energies. 

One thing that sets TIMF apart from other festivals is how they skillfully incorporate different genres each day to appeal to several different crowds. With only two stages and no overlapping sets, there is never a need to worry about missing your favorite artists, giving the overall festival a stress-free vibe. Kicking off the weekend on a high note, day one of TIMF was filled with hip-hop, house, and high-energy performers. If you want constant dancing, loud bass, and bold, colorful outfits, day one is for you. Headlining the first day was critically acclaimed rapper and songwriter, A$AP Rocky, who closed out his U.S. tour with TIMF as his final show. Other headliners for day one included the second-ever festival performance of Silk City, the new experimental duo between Diplo and Mark Ronson; electronic/new wave singer and songwriter, Santigold; and many other famous artists such as Pusha T, Aminé, Laff Trax featuring Toro y Moi and Nosaj Thing, Polo & Pan, and more.

The legend himself

DAY TWO: Rock & Relax.

If you’re into indie rock and are looking for a more laid-back vibe, day two is for you. The difference in apparel on the second day was apparent, with most attendees in vintage attire and oversized jean jackets. Closing out the festival was the incredible psychedelic rock band Tame Impala, who is prepping for the release of their highly anticipated, soon-to-be-revealed album. Other headliners included Lord Huron, who recently released their third album, Vide Noir; Jungle, a 7-person live band from the UK; folk-rock sensation Courtney Barnett; and POND, Cigarettes After Sex, US Girls, and more.

Art & Interaction

With the advantage of TIMF featuring non-overlapping sets, there are plenty of opportunities to take a break from the stages and check out all the art and interactive tents around the festival grounds. I admire how important art is to TIFM, because most festivals do not offer the opportunity to find your creative outlet amidst the busy crowds and performances. On day one, Molly and I arrived at the festival shortly after the gates opened and were both instantly impressed by how much there was to do. I was blown away by the number of free items that were offered to everyone, from custom sunglasses, to foldable hand fans, to endless Odwalla smoothies and Cliff bars.

There were three major art installations at TIMF, one of which you notice directly after walking through the gates: the 1800-lb manta ray sculpture, named “Fly By” by Peter Hazel and Colin O’Bryan, was influenced by the Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. This may be the most memorable piece for most attendees due to its prime location overlooking the Bay Bridge and San Francisco skyline. Formerly displayed at Burning Man 2015, Mechatheusisby Barry Crawford presented a giant mechanical squid with moveable tentacles. My personal favorite, the “Cosmic Voyager” by Chromaforms, featured a laser-cut stainless steel sea turtle sculpture where you can observe a futuristic city from beneath its body and even receive a horoscope reading based on the date and time. The festival also featured the “Balloon Chain” by Robert Bose, similar to the ones presented at Coachella, giving the crowd a colorful and heart-warming feeling no matter where you looked.

Good plants

One of my absolute favorite parts of the festival was WorkshopSF’s Camp DIY, where everyone is encouraged to express themselves through several different crafts offered. Whether you’re interested in crafting, sewing, tie-dyeing, or florals, there is something fun for everyone to experience. First, Molly and I checked out the funky temporary tattoo table, where we got to browse through hundreds of free tattoos and shared stories with strangers about why we chose the one we did. Molly got the chance to make her own flower crown while I stamped up some fabric and made myself a patch. This area also featured a unique, remodeled trailer filled with plants that guests are encouraged to walk through, along with a display of one-of-a-kind painted jean jackets by local artists.

The Highlight: Tame Impala.

Without a doubt in my mind, Tame Impala’s long-awaited performance was the highlight of the weekend (and probably my life). Seeing Tame Impala live is not like going to any other show; it is truly a spiritual experience. After waiting over 4 years to hear them live, my expectations were through the roof. With that being said, I was completely mind boggled after their 90-minute-long performance. The psychedelic rock band was scheduled to play at Desert Daze just two days before and unfortunately had their set cut an hour short due to a hazardous electrical storm, so it was clear that they were ready to bounce back and perform their hearts out for the Bay Area. To top it off, they performed their song “Jeremy’s Storm” for the first time in five years for a one-off jam. They even admitted to hardly practicing beforehand, so it was a special experience seeing them improvise live on stage. I have seen hundreds of musicians throughout my life, but nothing will compare to the talent Tame Impala puts out on stage. They are one of those extraordinary bands that sound even better live and I feel so lucky to have witnessed such an exceptional performance.

(Blurry) Tame Impala

Final Thoughts.

Overall, I was blown away by Treasure Island Music Festival and the experience they gave their attendees. It’s no wonder it has become one of the West Coast’s most beloved music festivals – I highly encourage everyone to check it out next October! A good majority of the crowd was 21+, which resulted in a more mature and laid back audience. If you’re legal and looking to enjoy good drinks with good music, this is the perfect festival for you. No matter your age, however, there is always something to do at TIMF. From the all-remarkable performances to the unique art and interactive vendors, this festival stands out above many others. Counting down the days ‘til next October when I get to do it all over again!

Representing KCR!

Review by: Brittany Roache

The Paper Kites at the House of Blues San Diego

The Australia-based band, The Paper Kites, brought their sense of magic to the House of Blues San Diego.

With their rock-folk and woodsy forest vibes, the members tend to use their harmonies and magical lyrics to create a mood that you are immersed in the song, feeling everything the words were intended to have — even if you have never heard the song before! Sam Bentley (vocals, guitars and keyboards), Christina Lacy (vocals, guitars and keyboards), David Powys (vocals, guitars, banjo and lap steel guitar), Josh Bentley (drums and percussion) and Sam Rasmussen (bass and synthesizers) make up The Paper Kites and the beautiful music they make.

The Paper Kites are known for their melancholic tones that offer you a sense of sadness mixed with hope. They opened with the song “Red Light” off of their new album On The Corner Where You LiveThanks to artist Megan Dougherty, the stage was set up to look like you were sitting in an apartment with the band. Artist Mike Castle came up with the lighting design of lights seeping through the blinds that Megan had carefully structured. They also added the featured colors for each song, like the dark blue for ‘Deep Burn Blue’ and the mysterious red for “Red Light.”

‘Deep Burn Blue’ followed ‘Red Light’ funnily enough. This song is about the feelings inside you and your own thoughts that make you not want to leave your own room. It’s as if you are afraid of what the world has to offer. Lead singer Sam put it himself that “music is so much more purposeful and devastating when it makes you feel exposed.” “Revelator Eyes” from twelvefour followed this. It is a song where the person is still trying to hold on to their relationship even though they can notice that their partner is not feeling the love anymore. The theme of the show at this point was following a relationship, which I’m sure many people in the audience could relate to.

The song “On The Corner Where You Live” is about saying goodbye even when that isn’t what you want to do. They continued this feeling of hurt with the song ‘When It Hurts You’, a powerful rock ballad about not wanting to hurt your loved one because you will feel the pain too. I closed my eyes during this and the one following it, ‘Bloom’, which made the room feel like we were all one. It is the song of hope, and the band played it slowly instead of at the fast pace that we are all used to. It was a perfect triage of songs to follow the relationship we were all pretending we knew.

‘Bloom’ was the first song I ever heard by The Paper Kites so I really felt in that moment how far the band has come and who they have developed to be. It is still so surreal to me that the track ‘Bloom’, their most popular song, was made as a bonus track release with the first EP they made. They had no idea it would be so successful. The Paper Kites emphasize continuously in their music that sometimes you have to let go (‘On The Corner Where You Live’), and although it hurts (‘When It Hurts You’), something good can come out of everything (‘Bloom’).

The Paper Kites included an intermission song, which was the track for  ‘A Gathering On 57th’. It gave the audience chills and a familiar feeling of nostalgia. I have always felt with that song that I am on a train visiting family or on my way to see someone I love.

‘Give Me Your Fire, Give Me Your Rain’ began after the interlude, and the crowd was back to its’ original excitement and swaying. ‘On The Train Ride Home’, the song from its’ self titled album is a personal favorite. It has a great deep meaning behind the simpleness of it. “If I can’t get the things I want, then give me what I need.” With a feeling of loss under the lyrics. This song may be about the chapter of our lives where we cannot find our true direction, where most of us are not able to handle the pressure to ourselves as we go to face the reality and so we try to go back to our home where we were once settled and happy. The train is a metaphor for our means to go back and within it we try to ask for help.

Some highlights to this show include their performances of “Electric Indigo,” and “Don’t Keep Driving” which they ended with. In the end, the audience was filled with a yearning and a desire to stay in that room forever.

I would definitely see The Paper Kites again if I had the chance. Their songs are so deeply personal, and I would recommend listening to their music if you are going through anything. I’m excited to see what is coming next with this band and where they will take us on their journey.
Review by: Molly Atkins

Tame Impala at Treasure Island Music Festival

Seeing Tame Impala live at Treasure Island Music Festival was an opportunity I’d never dreamed of experiencing. 

Led by record-producer and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Parker, Tame Impala is one of the world’s greatest mysteries. After being blown away by them, I wrote about the whole experience for those looking to experience it themselves.

The show:

Opening with the short interlude “Nangs” gave the perfect vibe of what the show would be like. The crowd was enticed by the fog pouring in from both sides of the stage, while the slowly changing lights immersed us all into the trip we were about to undertake. Slowly but surely, Kevin Parker’s voice began to sing “but is there something more than that?” Who knew 7 words could elicit such a feeling of love and excitement from a group of fans.

Tame Impala followed this moment with their hit single, “Let It Happen.” At this point, lasers began to shine, which seemed almost close enough to touch. The lasers bounced to the bass, following the sound at each turn as if they were magically being shot out of the band’s instruments. I felt as if it was the first time I was hearing the song even though I knew all of the words. As the song transitioned, Kevin did something we didn’t expect; He had the audience clap along, something you usually wouldn’t see at a psychedelic rock concert. He transformed us into instruments, adding percussion with our hands.

“Are you ready?” Kevin asked. And suddenly, confetti was covering the sky. The visuals at this concert were nothing short of breathtaking, seductive even.

Tame Impala’s lasers

Tame Impala proceeded to throw it back with “Sundown Syndrome,” their first official 2009 single. Being a sultry song, the band shifted the music into having a jazzier flow, while Kevin’s soft spoken vocals taught us how to sway.

The Moment” started and at this point we were all in our own little worlds. It’s such a fun and easy going song, it’s hard not to dance along. The band followed this with a snippet of  “Sestri Levante” to get us into the mood for something amazing: “Elephant.” This ultimate classic had us all on another level. If you’ve ever seen the Disney movie Dumbo, the song is literally like that one scene with the elephants where you think you’re on drugs. It’s crazy and hypnotic, and Kevin was throwing us through the ringer.

Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind?” was a very hardcore song compared to the others. It was almost like we were in the studio with Kevin as he wrote out the words, unsure and scared of what the feelings he was having meant. Next, “Eventually” came on with its’ distorted and romantic chords. The visuals for this song were also out of this world. The layers of lasers were immersed into a moving cloudy sky of light, flowing with the sound of the guitar. This song is heavily drum based compared to the other songs, so it was amazing to see how they added everything together in person.

Afterwards, “Yes I’m Changing” threw everyone into a reflective mood, as the song holds feelings of love and heartache. This song is about growing and becoming a better person, but not forgetting about who you are and not letting your past hold you down. “There is another future waiting there for you” he sang, telling us all that there is so much we can do to change. This song is the perfect mix of nostalgia and yearning. If you’re going through anything right now, this is the song to listen to. It’s hopeful, and it really makes you think.

The almost romantic but somehow savage song that is “The Less I Know The Better” started playing and we were all in a daze. If you haven’t heard this song before, I would stop what you’re doing right now and look it up. That’s it, I can’t ruin it, you’ll have to listen to it for yourself.

Amongst the excitement and shock of hearing that song live, the audience was blown away by something none of us expected. Tame Impala’s first performance of “Jeremy’s Storm” since November 2012. We were truly lucky to be there and be witnessing something like this. Kevin even said himself that they didn’t even soundcheck it and they were just going to go for it. This song had the most simple visuals which really showed off the bands’ roots. 

Love/Paranoia” was like a lullaby to us all, waking us up to the dreams that the song emitted. For a song about cheating, it’s one of their most beautiful songs. It feels almost as if you’re trapped in a loop, trying to push out and escape. And somehow, Tame Impala makes it feel like you want to be there.

Alter Ego” felt like we were all going through some sort of time machine into the past. And it was almost as if we were all traveling together, on a journey to trying to go back to the beginning of the show, knowing the end of it was near. “Apocalypse Dreams” rang out like a cry as we all danced, not wanting it to ever end. One of their longer songs, it was perfect to end on.

Beginning the encore, “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” played with a feeling of hope. Right as the song started, confetti filled the air and we were all moving in the air with it. I was realizing in this point that it really was the end of the show, and this was Tame Impala in their purest form. I didn’t want it to end.

Their last song was introduced with Kevin saying some parting words. “We will see you real soon, I promise,” he said, as “New Person, Same Old Mistakes” began. Everyone was holding onto his words of ‘seeing us real soon’, because he was still in front of us! During the interlude, Kevin spoke: “Alright guys. This is it! This is the last one. We will see you really soon. We love you! Thank you.” Confetti filled the sky one last time. It was the hardest goodbye.

WHAT NOW?

If you ever have the chance to see Tame Impala live, DO IT. Tame Impala has perfected this art of psychedelic, sexy, but somehow distorted way of catching your eye and making you never want to turn back. It was one of the most magical shows I have ever experienced, and for that I am so grateful, and excited, for what is to come with Tame Impala’s future. According to Kevin, we’ll be seeing them “real soon”, and I’ll be sure to hold him to that.

Photos by: Brittany Roache
Written by: Molly Atkins