Black Lips / Vivian Girls / White Wires

Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto ON April 16

BY Bjorn OlsonPublished Apr 18, 2011

It seems like only yesterday that the fun-loving goofballs in Black Lips played a tiny, barely legal, super-cramped space in a converted Vancouver hooker hangout called the Candy Bar for their Canadian debut, leaving a shell-shocked, sweaty crowd of garage know-it-alls and assorted hangers-on gobsmacked and mind-blown. In the years following, the band cultivated a reputation for wild, id-enhanced live shows, leaping from heady punk dives to swell opening slots and plum festival gigs. Now, in advance of what promises to be their poppiest and beachiest record yet, Arabia Mountain, Black Lips have hit the road yet again, tweaking their tried and true formula by only the smallest of margins.

And really, why mess with success? Triumphantly returning to Toronto in front of an adoring crowd, Black Lips pulled out a fiercely dirty set of heartfelt, rough and tumble garage punk'n'roll. From the first reverbed chord, the Atlanta natives had the audience ready to attend the First Baptist Church of Rock'n'Roll Righteousness, and rightly so, because there was never a moment that felt false, forced or showbiz. They traversed seamlessly through their entire catalogue, the judiciously chosen new tracks melding seamlessly with classics like "Not a Problem" and "Cold Hands."

Openers Vivian Girls plied tunes from their entire catalogue as well, similarly showcasing their latest LP, Share the Joy. The group were as enthusiastic as their introspective songs warranted, although their newest tracks seemed to stand out as more road-ready, with a slightly bigger and warmer sound.

Ottawa openers White Wires played an enthusiastic set that was a treat for the early-birds. Their genuinely fun and playful show was delightfully danceable and frontman Ian Manhire's stage-dive halfway through the Black Lips set was the unexpected icing on the power pop cake.

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