Yeah, "hipster irony" like a mug.
As luck would have it, the homegrown flower-punk band's long-planned tour of the Middle East happens to swing through Cairo, Egypt for a couple of dates right on the heels of the anti-American fervor flag-burning demonstrations at the U.S. embassy widely reported to have been sparked by that god-awful Innocence of Muslims movie.
Known for swapping spit and other bodily fluids onstage, the Lips certainly aren't the band of ambassadors that would immediately come to mind to spread goodwill to the traditionally conservative Middle East. While the Black Lips' rowdy rep tends to precede them — remember when they got kicked out of India — this might not be the time to piss off local authorities in a foreign country. Not that a little righteous indignation couldn't work in the band's favor, considering punk's anti-authoritarian roots. But causing anarchy seemed to be the furthest thing from Lips' guitarist/vocalist Cole Alexander's mind when CL music writer Chad Radford talked to him well in advance of the scheduled tour back in June:
"I am a little nervous about it, but I think we're doing something positive — playing shows there could, in some ways, help improve diplomacy between cultures. We've never thought of ourselves as a political band," he adds. "We're more like ambassadors for people who like music, and we're not going to disrespect anyone or get out of line at all — not after what happened in India."
In an odd way, this could be an opportunity for the relatively "indie" band out of Atlanta to smooth pull a Dalai Lama move by stepping over politically fraught cultural boundaries to extend peace to the Middle East. Or they could get their fucking heads chopped off.
Either way it should make for a compelling documentary, which Athens, GA/Inside-Out andWe Fun producer Bill Cody has been on board to film since the band announced its Middle East tour.
For the Sept. 21 (International Peace Day) show at Cairo's El Sawy Culturewheel, Black Lips will perform on a multicultural bill that includes Lebanese rockers Lazzy Lung and Egyptian punkers Faking It and 050 Band. Promoters are boasting that it's "the first show in Egypt to merge international and local acts in one event, bridging the gap between cultures."
The tour kicks off tonight (Sept. 19) in Larnaca, Cyprus before continuing through Oct. 6 with a total of three dates in Egypt and one-offs in Dubai, Lebanon, and Jordan. "Anywhere that we haven't been excites us," says Jared Swilley in a recently issued press statement about the tour. "Not many western bands have toured the region and to be one of the first is amazing. Adventures are the best."
Here's hoping naivete is as endearing in that part of the world, too.
Full Middle East tour schedule:
Sept 19 Larnaca, Cyprus — Savino Live
Sept 21 Cairo, Egypt — Culturewheel
Sept 23 Alexandria, Egypt — Deja Vu
Sept 25 Cairo, Egypt — Cairo Jazz
Sept 27 Dubai, UAE — Music Room
Sept 28 Erbil, Iraq — The Student Garden
Oct 1 Amman, Jordan — Switch
Oct 6 Beirut, Lebanon — Mojo Crew Club
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