Black Lips, Andrew Jackson Jihad, and Destruction Unit at Marquee Theatre

Black Lips, Destruction Unit, Andrew Jackson Jihad @ Marquee Theatre|4/6/13
I do this thing with movies where if it's a director I like, I refuse to view trailers, read interviews or any news whatsoever related to the film until I've seen it in theaters. I did this with No Country for Old Men, The Master, Spring Breakers, and Melancholia, just to name a few. If I know the director is excellent and the movie will likely be excellent, I like going in completely ignorant, figuring out the storyline as I go along. It makes the experience that much more enjoyable.

That said, I should know the Black Lips inside and out. I'm a terrible hipster, apparently, because even the few songs I've streamed on YouTube have been lost in the muddle that is my drug-addled brain. Going in to review a show, I should know every lyric by heart, every riff like the back of my hand, every fucking drumbeat like my own heartbeat, right? Gawd, I'm a terrible hipster.

Then again, there's no better way to introduce yourself to a band than through their live show. I was here, at the Marquee Theater, to explain the "why" and the "how," not extrapolate on my fandom.

Want more context? I've got zero health insurance (Obama really needs to get off his ass, doesn't he?) so I've been hacking up weird phlegmy discharges for the last three weeks and haven't had a sense of smell since February. Plus, my Friday night left me sore in places I forgot I can get sore, I was badly sunburned from a day at the lake and I had gotten about four hours of fitful sleep on some dude's floor. Great.

But I went to this show ready to fucking rock and roll.

After finishing a Sobe that was not filled with Sobe (wink, wink) and queuing through airport security, I mean, the line, my friends and I meandered through the construction and right to the front of the stage. Destruction Unit was gonna be on in five minutes, except some jackass pulled a fire alarm. Oh well, more time to drink, I suppose. 45 minutes later, the show was on.

Destruction Unit was more psychedelic garage rock than punk, but whatever their singer was yelling was drowned out in the roar of the pit. I cracked my head against two other heads, my shins met dozens of other shins, my friend's vintage World War II Navy captain's hat was thrown to the floor and stomped on, my other friend lost his jacket, never to be seen again, and this was all within the first five minutes.

But those guys on stage were doing something right, besides drinking half a beer and then throwing it everywhere or climbing on top of speakers. See, this is a proper introduction. I didn't know any of Destruction Unit's music either. Shame, shame, shame on me, and maybe later I'll even know what lyrics they have.

A quick recovery at the bar and on the smoker's patio, then it was back to the front for Andrew Jackson Jihad. This marks the fourth, possibly fifth time I've seen these guys, which is still too infrequent. But hey, this is weird: despite being the best local band in Phoenix since forever, this was AJJ's first time at Marquee. Oh yeah, making history. They went all electric for this one, including a drummer and a guitarist guy that I smoked with once (cigarettes, duh).

Sean, Ben and company opened with "Brave As A Noun" and people went fucking nuts. It will never compare being in the center of chaos like this, especially when you're scream/singing along to "People II: The Reckoning" or their sick cover of a Roky Erickson song.

Let's give this show even more context: my first moshpit was also my first concert, one of the Edgefests, and I had the most painful, pus-infested ingrown toenails a 14-year-old kid could have. By the end of the day, my entire feet were numb, the toenails nearly flattened, my socks soaking in blood. And I loved it.

So getting elbowed in the ribs and thrown the ground and picked up and thrown to the side and thrown back and having my toes squished over and over and my back pounded with elbows all while sneezing and wheezing and hacking (I swear I'm not contagious) was nothing. Maybe I have a perverted sense of fun. Maybe I'm secretly a sadomasochist. Maybe I just really fucking love Andrew Jackson Jihad and how they ended their set with "Hate and Kill" and everyone was screaming along because everyone else loves Andrew Jackson Jihad and pain as much as me.

Recovery, rinse, repeat. Black Lips did this weird thing with a red curtain, but we could still see the stage. Haha! Then, everything was revealed and the band came out and it was chaos. Not to mention the toilet paper being thrown everywhere. I wish I could say I knew what anyone was singing, but even though a bunch of folks were screaming along, it was largely incoherent.

I guess it doesn't matter. My introduction to Black Lips can be visceral, not cerebral, right? I got even more knocked up than before, if that's possible. My molars felt like they were coming loose from all the skull-smashing I was doing. My hair felt like it was falling out. My whole body felt like a squished grapefruit.

In the parking lot, we dug up the weapons and drugs that Marquee wouldn't let us take in (Kidding! Just a flashlight and some pens ... you're keeping us safe! I get it!) and inspected ourselves. Our white shoes were black. Our black shirts were rags of sweat. My friend's navy hat was even more ruined. We all looked like we'd just been through the trenches. And on the long light rail ride home, while some kids with Black Flag tattoos discussed which songs Black Lips didn't play, I thought about how people with fibromyalgia feel like this every day. But I earned it.

Last night: Destruction Unit, Andrew Jackson Jihad and Black Lips at Marquee Theater.

The Crowd: Lots of hipster punks. Does that make sense? The t-shirts were fucking punk and the crowd was fucking punk, but people with mohawks or leather jackets were in short number.

Personal Bias: When I say I'm a terrible hipster, maybe that means I'm not a hipster at all, which might be good because you're not supposed to want to be a hipster, which I don't want to be anyway, I want to be me, so I guess what I'm saying is I'm terrible at not being not myself.

Overheard: [about the DJ between sets] "This sounds like the Powerpuff Girls song."

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Troy Farah is an independent journalist and documentary field producer. He has worked with VICE, Fusion, LA Weekly, Golf Digest, BNN, Tucson Weekly, and Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Troy Farah