Photos By: Rachel Frank
By: Amanda Martinek
The Black Lips and Ariel Pink co-headlined the Observatory in North Park to a drowsy, small Sunday night crowd. Playing the Observatory in Orange County the night before and Pappy & Harriet’s towards Joshua Tree the night after, their San Diego stop was most likely not the highlight of the tour. Let me explain:
Taking stage early at 8PM, the Black Lips began their set to a scant pit section, as people were still on their way to North Park or waiting in the will call line. Outsiders could hear favorites like “O Katrina!” and “Veni Vidi Vici” playing inside, making us feel FOMO hard. Finally in the door, the crowd slowly filled in and get a bit rowdier, as we were at the fucking Black Lips, a band famous for their wild, penis-filled performances. Last time I saw the Lips, guitarist Cole Alexander pulled his dick out and used it to play his guitar. This time, getting the San Diego crowd to move or seem enthused was a struggle. Needless to say, this was the most mellow Black Lips show I’ve ever witnessed. Towards the end of their set, people finally started to loosen up and dance in a mini moshpit (which the security immediately got aggro and tried to break up). They ended with popular favorite “Bad Kids” and everyone got into the naughty spirit, immediately heading for the bar.
The crowd was now more liquored up and the stage was covered with blue and gold polka-doted painted cardboard mountains. We stood closely in anticipation of the weirdness to come. Ariel Pink, ditching the band moniker Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti took stage and launched into the fun, circus-like songs off his newest 2014 album pom pom like “Dinosaur Carebears” (while wearing a blue Care Bear sleeveless t-shirt) and “White Freckles“. Many songs performed were off the new album, while a few Haunted Graffiti tracks like “West Coast Calamities” and “Gettin’ High In The Morning” off an earlier release House Arrest were mixed throughout, showing his transformation in sound from the mellow, chillwave to up-beat, artsy explorative tracks, including songs co-written by the now deceased and controversial Kim Fowley and rapper Azealia Banks.
Just as pom pom and Pink himself are, the show was wild and surreal and messy and weird. I spent half the time is awe of the artistic leaps and achievement and the other half wondering how he tricked us all into showing up and watching. Don Bolles, the drummed from LA punk band the Germs, wore a bra, underwear and cowboy hat, while Australian musician Shags Chamberlain who has also joined Pink on tour, wore a long white cult coat and shiny, silver short shorts.
While it was beautiful and confusing and interesting, it was also Sunday night with a San Diego crowd, aka the majority being super lame and dipping out early. So when it came time for an encore, the crowd couldn’t muster enough noise to get Pink and friends back on stage to play two more tracks. Shame on you San Diego, shame on you.