Black Lips + Tiny Migrants @ The Zoo, 02.03.2012

It’s the day after the night before. With no 11:25pm Beenleigh train, I have to hang around to 11:55pm to get home and the train is delayed due to a “police incident at Alderley”, making it another 20 minutes late. By the time I get home it’s just before 1am and there’s a big day at work with deadlines and meetings before Black Lips at The Zoo. It’s supposed to be my nine-day fortnight RDO, but, as is happening far too often, people keep booking me up for meetings and so I keep having to go to work on my day off (taking Monday off instead of Friday).  It’s annoying because I keep putting in for Thursday night gigs knowing that I’ve got the next day off and don’t have to get out of bed to a much more reasonable hour.

By the time the evening rolls around I feel shattered and just want to go to bed, not go out to a gig.  As well as a general going-out apathy, I’m also engrossed in the Australia-Sri Lanka one-day match. So I don’t make it in for Cannon but leave seconds after Sri Lanka have won to get to The Zoo a few minutes after Tiny Migrants have started. In a way I’m a bit surprised that they’re the support band given that Velocirpator supported the night before at the Gold Coast gig, but there is some obvious common ground in the 1960s surf-based garage they both play.

After Tiny Migrants play what feels like a really short set (maybe they started early or I was later than I thought I was) I claim my usual spot at the front as there’s already a few rows of people claiming their positions.  It’s a bit annoying given that there’s still about 40 minutes until the band are due to start, but given that there’s already a lot of people here, I don’t want to get stuck in a poor position for photographing.  It’s a very hipster looking crowd, but not much of a surprise given the band are signed to Vice’s record label.  The Zoo might be being its usual sweat-box self, but I even spy a guy in one of those beanie hats that has the ear flaps and the dangling draw-strings.  I guess you gotta suffer for your fashion.

I end up stuck next to this couple at the front.  Or at least I start off thinking they’re a couple.  After a bit longer I start to think that maybe they’re actually on a first date.  Standing next to speaker stack (with ear plugs) I can’t make out much of the conversation but am picking up a bit of awkwardness in the body language.  Just before the band come on on start he tries to stick his tongue down her throat and she slaps him across the face and so I get the distinct impression that there was nothing between them and he was just hitting on her.  I choose the best places to stand sometimes…

The Black Lips’ show is good and what I expect, given their reputation, but ultimately I’m just too tired and grumpy to enjoy it properly and not in the mood to deal with the crowd.  They sound a lot bigger than the four-piece they are; it’s impressively solid and raucous.  They’ve got the muscle that I wish Velocirpator (who are obviously influenced by the band) would develop.  While there’s something endearing in seeing a slightly shambolic and loose band, the last two or three times I’ve seen Velocirpator they’ve been fairly sloppy.  Considering there’s usually between 9 and 12 of them, they should be a massive wall of sound but by comparison they just sound so weak and weedy.  They should just sound immense.  I’ve got a lot of time for them but I hope they learn from their night on the Gold Coast supporting tonight’s headliners.

From the very first second that Black Lips start playing there’s moshing, crowd surfing and stage diving.  Given that The Zoo heavily promotes a no stage diving/no crowd surfing environment, I’m not sure what their take on the night is.  I’ve seen people thrown out at previous gigs for doing those things but it goes with the territory if you have Black Lips playing a show at your venue.  Given that although the venue is full but not packed, it really is taking your life into your own hands and praying that the density of people is sufficient to hold you up if you dive from the stage.  Reminds me of a time long ago (possibly when seeing The Frank & Walters at The Riverside in Newcastle when a friend stage dived, only for the audience to part and for him to hit the concrete floor.  Good times.  With no photo pit at The Zoo, there are a couple of scary-looking times when one of the crowd surfers is being thrown around so much that it looks like they’re going to come down on the edge of the stage but they get bounced back into the throng when it looks like it might end up nasty.  Guess that’s the risk you take.

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