About three weeks ago, I ran into Stiles, the always-cheerful manager at a Arkansas-based big-box store who sports some of the best tattoos in the High Desert. He’s one of my music compasses, always guiding me to great music, and he reminded me of the Black Lips show at Pappy and Harriet’s on June 24. I decided to go, trusting that Stiles would be standing next to me—because at the last Black Lips show I attended, I almost suffered a tib-fib (tibia fibula) fracture.
The Black Lips were in Pioneertown promoting the band’s eighth studio album, Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art?—but the lineup ran deep, with Starcrawler as the first of two openers.
From stage right, Starcrawler guitarist Henri Cash entered with guitar in hand, letting a riff echo through the early crowd, followed by Arrow de Wilde, wearing a hospital gown, acting like an escapee from sanatorium—imagine a female Iggy Pop.
I was captivated by Starcrawlers’ performance. I was flanked by Joaquin the butcher (literally, he is a butcher), who is a great guy to have in the pit. Stiles was standing to the right of me, in a Ryan Adams shirt, along with his daughter, who happened to be celebrating her birthday and was wearing the mandatory Misfits shirt that young teens at a certain age must own.
De Wilde was true to her name—she was a woman possessed, someone who would give Lon Chaney a run for his money when it came to facial expressions that varied from fright to derangement; at one point, she smeared fake blood on the birthday girl. Starcrawler ended the show with de Wilde running into the audience—never again to be seen, as she left toward the back of the bar.
Timmy’s Organism took the warm-up spot. Timmy polled the crowd for Detroit natives; when a few hands were raised, he said: “We’re Timmy’s Organism from Detroit!” Timmy, aka Tim Lampinen, donned a fuzzy and perhaps-too-warm-for-the-High-Desert outfit.
The muscular, high-energy band pounded hard rock. Toward the end of the set, Timmy shared: “I use to eat garbage; now I eat steak,” dedicating these words to the fans from the Motor City.
The Black Lips walked onstage at a little after 11 p.m. They were at Pappy and Harriet’s three years ago, and the Black Lips have a legendary reputation for being kicked out of venues, so Pappy’s staffed up with security to control the devil dogs, hippies and punkers who were in attendance.
The band sparked anarchy on the dance floor with the words, “We’re down the super highway all alone a shopping bag full of broken bones, sick and tired of hearing telephones,” from the song the “Sea of Blasphemy.” Stiles did his best to stay standing as a avalanche of humans rushed the stage. Time was not on my side as I tried my best to stay upright as well.
“Boys in the Wood,” off of Underneath the Rainbow, calmed the crowd, but by then, the lens hood had been ripped off my camera and partially crushed under the stopping of the crowd—a sure sign from above to bail from the front of the stage, as I heard I these words to the song: “Them boys are wild back in the woods, they got a child who’s misunderstood. When the boys start to drinking, you know it ain’t no good.”
Fans were treated to several new songs off the latest album, including “Rebel Intuition” and “Crystal Night,” the latter a sad love song involving a sweetheart gone missing during the Nazi era: “Do you remember first time I saw you? I look into your eyes and thought that you would be my sugar, not in this life. We never say goodbye, Now you’re sent to die on crystal night. So while I’m living on this planet, if don’t see you, I just wait until the day that could meet in heaven up in the sky, and then we will never cry or have to say goodbye. No more crystal night.” The song is a true pot of gold for the Black Lips—and it led to another memorable moment at Pappy and Harriet’s.