Razorcake: King Khan & Black Lips at Dirty Water Club 27 August 04
Went to see the Black Lips a couple times a couple months ago. Was gonna write one of them academic type papers about it, call it "The Windmill vs. The Dirty Water Club: A Comparative Study of the Black Lips." Maybe submit it to a fancy journal and get myself a "ten year" track position teachin' at Harvard. But my study habits have always sucked, no doubt, in part, to my drinking habits bordering on reckless. I was pleasantly shitfaced before I left the house for the Windmill, drank through the soccer match that delayed the start of the show (England spectacularly snatching defeat from the jaws of victory versus Portugal in penalty kicks, the way all soccer games should be decided) and during the opening bands. I was so fucked up by the time they started that I couldn't tell you a single song the Black Lips played or how they sounded. I do remember stealing one of the guitarist's Marlboro Reds during the last song and thinking I was some kinda hot shot smokin' it on the walk home. I made it back just in time to fall through the bathroom door and sloppily heave my guts out all over the toilet. I guess Harvard won't be calling anytime soon, which is fine - they can kiss my pimply ass. With the Black Lips and King Khan giving guest lectures in punk and r'n'b the following night at the Dirty Water Club for six quid, who needs an expensive private education? Fuck you, college!
My stomach was still unsettled from the previous night's binge as White Girl took the stage, and they nearly managed to send it into full-blown upheaval again. It's mind-numbingly obvious that these boys spend their days slurping at the crotch of Slowhand - wanky guitar riffage, wooden stage presence. It made me want to drop their progeny out of a window. I'm not a religious man, but I turned my palms and countenance to the sky and prayed old-school Jerusalem style, repenting my sins, asking the Lord Jesus Christ in Heaven to strike these fuckers down, lest I cover the floor in partially digested kebab. My prayers fell on deaf ears, and I resigned myself to sit in a chair and watch the three guys (two of whom are on coke) who have gotten out of their seats for White Girl's set dance at the front of the stage. An epiphany followed soon thereafter: Jesus is a White Girl fan. This fact realized, I headed to the bar, borrowed some tin foil, bought a gram from the party boys, and disappeared into the toilet (my own personal crossroads) to smoke cocaine and enter into contract with Lucifer. I returned to the main hall and White Girl were still on stage. The Dark One had swindled another soul from a weak-willed sucker, but I didn't care 'cause, whhhooo-hooo, I was high as fuck. The final nail in the coffin was hammered home when the singer stopped the instrumentation and performed one of those Mariah Carey/Boyz II Men a cappella stunts - "ah-AH-ah-AH-AH-ah-ah-AH-AH-AH-AH" - up and down the register ad-fuckin'-nauseum until all the dogs and coyotes in the neighborhood were howlin' in a desperate cry to make him stop. At that point, though, I thought the guy must have been doing something right because I couldn't feel my face and I was rubbing my ass on anyone who'd let me. This is all bullshit, by the way, aside from the cokeheads dancing and White Girl sucking. They were just so fucking boring it's all I can do to stay focused and keep myself from slipping into (wait for ingenious Razorcake issue #21 tie-in) the EXISTENTIAL VOID!! (Ta-DOW!)
The missus and I grabbed a couple beers at the bar and tried to forget what we'd just seen. I was gingerly sipping mine while the Sensational Shrines set up. They looked strange and European, a grown-up 8th grade band class with sweet equipment and unselfconscious, Teutonic goofiness. To be honest, I was not sure what to expect from the set. King Khan's former persona, Blacksnake, comes from an astonishing garage rock pedigree, but his current work with the Sensational Shrines leaves me flat and uninspired. Could it be that this charismatic front man of Indian extraction has lost his mojo? Smack my mouth for thinking such a thing! My skepticism melted away as soon as the band kicked into the first song - forget that shit about "strange," "European," and "goofy," these guys are a good-time, ass-shakin' r'n'b machine. Speedfingers announced King Khan and he appeared at the dressing room door sporting a German army helmet and thrift store suit, a genuine jungle woman go-go dancer in tow. They ascended the stage and it was pandemonium; go-go girl was a whirl of crazed-eye twists, twirls and gyrations; the Shrines broke out in a sweat of funk and groove; and King Khan had charisma oozing out of every orifice. In fact, he's so full of degenerate charm that you'd almost be okay if you heard that he fucked your sister next to the dumpster in the alley after the show. Almost. He shook, he rattled, he rolled down into the audience and rubbed his jungle staff on one of the Black Lips' genitals. "Do somethin' crazy you've never done before," he encouraged. "Take a shit on the floor, wipe yer ass on the wall. Let's have some fun tonight at the Dirty Water Club!" The cokeheads jumped on stage and were warned, "I only wanna see y'all up here if yer fuckin'!" Band and front man ran through a series of choreographed dance moves, including a version of that Russian squat/kick dance, and lyrical set ups. During the call and response chorus of "Lovesick," King Khan's "I'm love-sick!" was met with the band's reply of "King Khan's a pussy." If he were old enough, I'd say King Khan was James Brown's godfather. Music fans, do yourselves a favor - sell your King Khan vinyl and buy a ticket to Europe to see him live. A great man, a great band.
The Black Lips took the stage and immediately went into a Nuggets-style tailspin. They were drunk, nervous and attempting to top the smokin' set King Khan delivered. It was fuckin' embarrassing. The songs sounded fine - lo-fi production and screaming howls are kept in tact from the recordings. But they were trying way to hard to be wild and crazy. After the fourth song the singer said, "Cher's first wardrobe change," and pulled on a grey t-shirt with a swastika drawn on the front. Shocking (yawn). A second wardrobe change into a sparkly shirt and a pair of baggy shorts and the set was still a mess. The singer comments on a stupid mistake made by the drummer. The drummer replied with, "Not as stupid as your face," and that must've been what they needed to spark the descent into degenerate chaos, 'cause from there on out the show was overseen by Caligula. People, following King Khan's lead, started throwing beer, plastic cups and cans at the band. A sinister smile formed on the singer's face and he climbed a speaker during one of the songs. He fumbled with his shorts and suddenly his dick was hanging out. It started as a trickle, perhaps because of nerves, but a moment later a full stream of piss was shooting out into the crowd. He aimed his dick upwards, bent his head towards his crotch, slurped a mouthful of his own urine, and spit it out into the audience. Everyone in the place simultaneously lost their minds. People were staggering around, grabbing onto stranger's shoulders and saying, "Can you believe this shit?!" King Khan jumped on stage to drum up some audience appreciation and was met with a big, sloppy, open-mouthed kiss from the singer. Anything in the club that wasn't nailed down was flying at the stage. The bass player got up on his amp and pulled down his pants. He jumped down and stepped up to the mic. "I'd like to thank my dad for putting on this show. He's a cool guy." At that point I think they started playing "Freakout," but I can't be sure 'cause I'd lost the ability to think clearly. Taboos were being broken to bits along with a good portion of the PA. The only thought I could muster was: "What are these guys going to do to top this next time they tour? Anal sex? Pissing into each others' mouths?"
The missus was shocked and a bit embarrassed by all this male frontal nudity. The bass player, specifically, revealed a bulbous, heavily hanging cock (not like I was staring, but the thing was hard to miss). The length was impressive, but, good god, the girth! If he tattooed "Louisville Slugger" on it, he could use it to hit fly balls to youngsters at little league practice. The pissing, the howling, the cock showing. The only sense I could make of the spectacle is that the Black Lips were auditioning for the headlining slot as the house band in Hell. The devil himself couldn't have spawned a wilder, more debased group of irresponsible idiots to musically lord over his minions. The set ended in a haze of debauchery, an overturned drum kit, and the acrid stench of human piss, which, after the band was gone and the DJ spins the first post-set record, was smeared all over the floor and into the soles of the audience members' shoes.
That was it, we'd had enough. The band disappeared into the bowels of the club and the tube stopped running about an hour ago. The missus and I clasp hands and head for the night bus, shocked, appalled, amazed, confused, and knowing all too well that tomorrow we were going to have to burn our Chuck Taylors.