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TV Party - B

BLACK LIPS - Kids Like You And Me {MVD} I like tour diaries and by default, documentaries about tours. If that tour occurs somewhere exotic, dangerous or far-flung, it makes the document of that tour even more enticing. This film sees Atlanta, Georgia band BLACK LIPS document its tour of the Middle East in 2012 with local Lebanese band, LAZZY LUNG.
For those who don’t know, BLACK LIPS is a 4-piece that cranks out some energised Power Pop but lace it with a ragged Garage Punk vibe and come off like a fusion of ARCHERS OF LOAF, RAETARDS and EXPLODING HEARTS with a vague BEATLES influence.
This all kicks off with alarming news footage of lots of anti-US sentiment and pro-Islam dogma from Egypt. Just to put the politics of this in perspective, the 18 days of Egyptian protests/ riots that lead to the resignation of President Mubarak occurred in 2011 (footage of which is included here and it’s intense); this tour began a little over a year later on, of all days, International Peace Day. The tour included many of the Middle East no-go areas of the time - Cyprus, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon. Obviously, this is uncharted territory for most bands and makes this, from both musical and political perspectives, compelling viewing.
The band footage is suitably raucous, although some of the audience response appears a little muted; I guess given the vacuity of such bands in the Middle East could explain a certain restraint. The band themselves, while appearing decent guys, are a little apathetic when it comes to the politics. They state in one interview their main objective is for some ‘good times’, however they do have a local Lebanese band supporting and, from the footage, they certainly got out on the streets and among the locals. As with most road movies, there are a number of inconsequential scenes that fit in the context of the film but add little to its overall substance.
It was interesting to hear some of the locals in such places as Iraq and Lebanon say that their fear of living in these areas is no worse than those that their refugee friends are experiencing in their ‘new countries’. The suggestion of media hype is only one sentence away.
The band is also interviewed on MTV in Beirut; given the locales history, the comment from one band member that tonight’s show is "gonna be a blast" did seem a little out of place.
Something that did seem genuinely odd is that the tour was sponsored by Converse but the film made no attempt to address, or explain why such a recognised corporate is sponsoring a relatively low-key tour. Both bands play in front of the Converse logo, at least one person always has a Converse T-shirt on... the suggestion of American capitalism invading the Middle East is but one other sentence away.
The film, that lasts just on 80 minutes, is accompanied by a few extras including a full song from both bands on the Converse Tour 2012, the full MTV appearance and the film’s official trailer. Nothing really exceptional there.
While I enjoyed the film and particularly the music, I did find that come the closing credits I was left feeling a bit hollow. The opening sentiments and the footage of the Egyptian uprising thrilled, but the content that followed didn’t reach such dramatic heights.
It might be easy to be cynical of the band’s apparent political ambivalence, and of the corporate sponsorship; fact is BLACK LIPS went out there, played these relatively small club shows and mixed it up with the locals - how many of the more recognised ‘right-on’ political bands have managed to do that? (29.11.15)

Hit HERE for material reviewed prior to 2015 including:
BIG AUDIO DYNAMITE, Blank Generation Film