By Sarah Muller and Christopher "CJ" Smith
Live chickens seem more fit for a farm than a concert. An old man on rollerblades doesn't exactly scream rock and roll, either. But Sunday's Jelly NYC Pool Party was all about the punk-rock spectacle.
That's no surprise, though. We're dealing with the triple-threat rabble-rousing crew of the Black Lips, Deerhunter and King Khan And The Shrines — three bands that are known as much for their onstage antics as their various blends of punk. But this time, they turned a party designed for a loft or a basement into a giant outdoor party — complete with audience-participation food fights, an onstage toilet-paper smackdown and plenty of cringe-worthy "did they REALLY just do that?" moments.
The bands are bestest friends. But if you ask them, they're more like family. Sort of...
There's no sibling rivalry here. The performers shared the spotlight with each other throughout the course of the afternoon, and said they're going to officially work together soon. "We would like to officially announce a band that we've started called Butt Flower," King Khan half-jokingly told MTV News, adding that the project consists of the Black Lips' Cole Alexander, Deerhunter's Bradford Cox and himself. With Cox and Khan getting together for an impromptu set at the Pitchfork Music Festival last month — AND Cox and Alexander releasing music as Ghetto Cross — the trio seems closer than ever. Unfortunately, it's been difficult to get them all in one place to record, specifically, Khan noted, "because [Alexander's] helicopter ran out of gas."
Not one to leave anything to the imagination, Khan removed his pants to give the crowd a visualization of the new band's name during Deerhunter's set (with the help of some flowers). But even that stunt seemed tame compared to some of the other outrageous moments of the day.
Cox played a guitar with a Chihuahua during the Black Lips’ set, holding the animal's paws up to the fretboard. Rumor has it, the Chihuahua was filling in for two live chickens that were left backstage in a cardboard box due to "health-code violations" (read: if the birds went on, the bands would go home). Oi!
Antics aside, it was a day filled with terrific music. Cox said his "personal highlight" was "Mr. Khan and Mark Sultan [the BBQ half of King Khan & the BBQ Show] jamming to their tune "Too Much in Love" with backing aid from the Black Lips. But that wasn't the only inspiring musical collaboration — Alexander also joined Deerhunter for his killer sound-collage part of "Saved by Old Times," a new track from DH's upcoming album Microcastle. The rest of the Deerhunter set was drama free, focusing on a mostly clean and reverb-less sound. "Brooklyn is my delay pedal today," Cox responded to the crowd's calls for more reverb on his vocals. With the walls of the pool reflecting the pulsating rhythms coming from the stage, he was probably right.
While Deerhunter and the Black Lips have recently been moving away from the pranks of yesteryear, this show served as throwback to their days of house parties and small bars. Now they're bringing the always-welcome danger element back to their music — animals and all — as one big happy, dysfunctional family.