Posted by: Johnny Loftus on September 26, 2007 at 10:19 pm

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Before the night was over there would be spit, motorcycles, and gargantuan mustaches. But all of that’s pretty normal for a Black Lips show. Earlier, before the stoned trash rock destruction of Atlanta’s new favorite sons, there was time for a meet-cute with Mandy Moore.

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The scuzz of St Andrews Hall is infamous. Thousands of great shows and thousands more terrible ones (especially recently) have occurred inside its walls, and the bathroom has the vomit stains and ingrained odor of piss to prove it. But not this night. St. Andrews had been given the twice-over with Mr. Clean for Moore’s performance, which had rolled into town as part of a club tour to support Wild Hope, her summer dress of an album. The crowd was sanitized, too. Not that you’d expect anything less than the politer than pressed slacks, largely female turnout — they’re the demo that purchased Chasing Liberty on DVD — but they enjoyed themselves during Rachael Yamagata’s pleasant opening set, and tittered and clapped like Oprah’s audience when their girl arrived on stage. These women would not be leaving early to catch the Black Lips uptown. Besides, they’d Tivo’d the season premiere of “Dancing With the Stars” to be here.
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As for Moore, her tour is admirable in that it’s (relatively) under the radar and concentrating on small to mid-sized clubs. As calculatedly bland as her Wild Hope material is, Moore’s eagerness to take it out on the road (she told us from the stage how excited she was; it has to be true, right?) proves her commitment to bringing off its earthy tones live, without filters, tweaks, or other assorted smoke and mirrors. And, with the help of her band of touring pros, she pulled it off as well as could be expected. Nothing special, but an appropriately light touch and plenty of chatty banter on the mic. “We had the day off yesterday, so I grabbed Rachael and we went shopping! And then we saw the Beastie Boys, and went bowling!” It was like eavesdropping on a women’s social, but as a pledge for legitimacy wrapped up in reinforcement of the squeaky clean Mandy Moore brand, it wasn’t too bad.
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Bad was the name of the game at the Magic Stick. Not the Black Lips — the quartet lived up to the outrageous descriptions of their live show with a haphazard, likely high, and happily soused set heavy on the more upbeat cuts from Good Bad Not Evil. No, it was the crowd that was bringing the bad.
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While Mandy Moore transformed Cat Stevens’ “Moonshadows” into a fluttery diary entry a few blocks away, these types had been hitting the free, Harley Davidson-sponsored booze heavily and jamming fists into the air at the raucous call to arms of always incredible openers Lee Marvin Computer Arm.
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The people in this crowd had that look in their eyes, and the mood was even more shifty because this was a Tuesday night. By the time the Lips hit the stage, the area in front of it was thick with haze, dollar store headgear, and sloppy open-mouth kisses on sweaty necks. Which is the way the Lips like it, of course, since at some point their guitarists made out, too. That has to be difficult with a pair of tacky-platinum grillz hooked onto your teeth, but naturally that’s what Ian St. Pe performed in.
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As a bonus, Black Lips bassist-vocalist Jared Swilley’s mustache was the biggest, coolest thing in the room. And this is a room that included a Harley that had been hoisted up the steps on slings. — Johnny Loftus
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Pics: Harry Caul & Martin Stett

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