Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Black Lips Chased Out of India by Police

Black Lips Chased out of India by Police
http://vice.typepad.com/vice_magazine/2009/01/black-lips-indi.html <- read this for a more juvenile report of events :-)


"When garage-rock knuckleheads the Black Lips smash beer bottles over their guitars or piss in their own mouths onstage in the U.S., the worst that usually happens is they'll get banned from another venue. But when they bring that anarchy to their tour of India, they incur the wrath of all sorts of authority figures.

That's what reportedly happened Friday night in Chennai. According to the Indian music site Indecision, the Lips got themselves in trouble while playing at Sir Mutha Venkata Subbarao Concert Hall. Guitarist Cole Alexander stripped his clothes off, dove in the crowd, then got back onstage and made out with other band members. This kind of thing does not fly in Chennai. As of right now, the rest of the Lips' Indian tour is canceled, and the band's label, Vice Records, has no idea where they are.

This Indian tour had always seemed like a pretty nuts idea. The Lips were topping the bill at a Battle of the Bands, playing after a bunch of Indian metal bands. And the first show of the tour, in Pune, found the confused crowd pelting the band with plastic bottles. In an interview with Time Out Mumbai, Lips drummer Joe Bradley said that the band would be tuning down their live show for this tour: "We want to respect the people and places that provide these shows for us." The weird thing is that the Chennai show actually sounds fairly low-key as far as Black Lips shows go."


Now, my opinion on this. Don't know the band; don't care. I do understand what it's like to be f*cked over by people running the show here. I have also experienced the "not-so-fun in dysfunctional" companies and the retarded young men who use their daddies' money to become film producers and rock promoters with absolutely no experience. I think both the Black Lips' manager AND ESPECIALLY the promoters should have understood what they were going to perform where they were going to perform it. That was just plain stupid. ALSO, the bullsh*t about telling the band they owed US$10,000 for not continuing to perform all their tour dates, and finding out they didn't even have a written contract? WTF? And trying to keep their passports? OMFG... (shakes head) Nothing new there - welcome to India.

I know there will be flame mail for this, but don't expect any artist (no matter how good OR bad) to kowtow to your personal values. I'm not defending this band but I would never expect ANY artist to change their vision to fit a culture's moral view point. That's not their mission in life. It's up to their managers and agents to commercialize their products - that's why they are the "professionals" and I'm using the term loosely. It's the artist's mission to stay true to their personal truth, whatever that may be.

The whole reason for living the life of a musician or artist is to express yourself through your art. Whether or not the audience finds what you have to say or do personally offensive or worth paying for is their problem.

There have been MANY artists banned through the centuries because they offended popular constructs and morals, including many modern(ish) artists such as de Sade, Robert Mapplethorpe, Georgia O'Keefe, Walt Whitman, William Rice Burroughs, Lenny Bruce, Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, but they live on because what they produced strikes a chord in other human beings.

If you don't like it, don't see it. I love fine art, but I'm not a fan of Impressionism. I won't go to see their work. I can't stand Country music, but I love late 70's/early 80's Punk - The Ramones, Plasmatics, Circle Jerks, Dead Kennedys and the Sex Pistols are gods to me. When bands like these were banned in Boston, members-only private clubs, like Media Workshop, bent the rules by being open after the bars closed at 1:00AM with a BYOB policy. You got to see the bands, even though they were considered lewd, immoral, obscene and broke all sorts of public decency laws. It was great :-) I'll defend to the death the right for someone to listen to Country Music, but I won't play it on the radio, buy a CD or go to a concert.

The arts are also the first to be controlled by dictators, religious fanaticism and other totalitarian regimes. Take a look at countries attempting to "program" writing, music, design, and architecture and you'll be seeing the first signs of a less that free society. The Christian Right did huge damage to the NEA, educational programs, and public libraries (even more damage was suffered in public funding of creative expression in places like Kansas, Nebraska & Alaska).

Leave morals out of artistic expression. Banning any artistic view is abhorrent, whether or not we are reviled by its subject matter. Burning books, destroying sculptures, painting over fine art are all ways that are used to subjugate freedom of expression, to subjugate one's cultural identity, to remove your identity and connection to your fellow man. It's a personal expression and no one, absolutely no one, gets to tell me how to say it, to whom I can say it, or what I am allowed to say.



  1. As Voltaire had said, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it".


  2. Voltaire said a lot of interesting things. My favorite is "War is simply murder committed to the sound of trumpets."

  3. Indian authorities are horrible. I have never had any pleasant or courteous exchanges with them.

  4. hi jeanne.i recently discovered your blog and love it except for the fact that your font is too small. if possible, please make the font size bigger. thanks & keep blogging cuz there are oodles of people like myself who love reading witty travel blogs like your's.

  5. Anu:

    Word, girlfriend. Wait until my case is over. I will relate the exact type of hell a foreigner can get into here. If you think I've been judgmental so far, I haven't really begun.


  6. Anonymous:

    Increased the size of the font. Welcome to my blog. Feel free to follow me, subscribe to my RSS feeds, or follow me on twitter: @jeanneleez. Thanks for your support!

    - J