“The last time we played these songs, I couldn’t grow facial hair,” bassist Jared Swilley joked as PBR cans flew over the heads of the packed house at the Earl, where he and his Black Lips bandmates reconvened as The Renegades for a somewhat-secret show last Thursday night.
In the late 90s, those songs rang out from the few venues willing to accept The Renegades, the moniker of Swilley and his pals in their pre-flower-punk high school days. (It's also the name of the band the Black Lips guys play in the as-yet-unreleased indie film Let It Be.) In the interceding decade, the Black Lips have perfected their mustaches and honed their songwriting craft, but as the Earl's packed house proved Thursday, sometimes nothing gets the blood flowing like good old-fashioned three-chord punk.
Though the night's openers didn't benefit from a crowd the size an advertised Black Lips gig would have brought, all three put on pretty good shows. The Stolen Minks, an all-female garage rock trio from Nova Scotia, got the then-sparse crowd into the groove by covering local punk heroes The Carbonas. The next two provided a study in contrasts: The catchy, workman-like The Goodnight Loving were followed by France’s bombastic, quasi-psychedelic Jack of Heart, whose vocalist, Piero Ilov, worked the growing crowd into a frenzy.
And that frenzy only grew as the Renegades (with Die Slaughterhaus Records head honcho Mark Nauman joining the regular Black Lips lineup) took the stage, playing the entirety of their rough and tumble repertoire, including garage rock staple “Louie Louie.” It was a brief, intense rush that left the crowd hungry for more, and the band obliged by returning to the stage as the Black Lips to play a batch of new songs that boasted a rough edge reminiscent of Let it Bloom, the band's third album, and incited the crowd into multiple fist-fights. The rowdy atmosphere was fitting for a show that erased any notions that the Black Lips had “sold out” when they signed to Vice Records in 2006, a real treat for Atlanta’s faithful.
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