In January 2009, I managed to get the Black Lips to India to tour. If there was any band that would have the guts to come to India and be real, I figured it would be the Black Lips. I posted an invite on their blog in October 2007, and Jared wrote back soon after saying they were down. I went from there.
Given their reputation for on stage "chaos" I wondered if anyone would be willing to take this on from the perspective of events management. There were financial risks involved, as someone would have to put the money up to fund the tour. But I figured there had to be someone in India that could pull off the logistics required, and that at the end of the day, it would work if someone could swing the sponsorship and get their cut. Beyond that, I wanted a producer so I could shoot this, because I was pretty sure whatever happened would make for something special to document.
Though I tried as best as I could to make everyone aware of the risks involved, I suppose that ultimately, everyone was just waiting to see what would happen. I certainly was. This video documents what happened.
I haven't said anything in a public space about this tour. I've heard about others taking credit for the tour, I've read the press concoctions about what happened, and I've been accused of not sticking up for the organizers in the face of what was perceived as a conscious effort on the part of the Black Lips to cause harm. It was utterly fascinating. Decisions, risk, and incentives.
The events management firm lost a lot of cash when the sponsors flipped after seeing what a Lips show is really like, and that loss upset everybody involved. That last show in Chennai was amazing. Naturally, there was anger on the part of the events management firm because of that loss, though borne of unmet expectations forged on financial incentives as opposed to love of the music. There was the threat of police reprisal in the context of "public indecency" given what happened. I booked two cars to leave the state of Tamil Nadu so we could get out of police jurisdiction, and we left that night. The next day, things got tense in Bangalore with someone trying to hold the band hostage in connection with the financial loss. Money brings out the worst in people.
I put two parties together who wanted to do it, though both maybe didn't really know what they were getting into.
I shot this with Robert Semmer for VBS.TV, the video portal for Vice Magazine. They cut it back in New York. Some people in India got what the Black Lips were about, some didn't. Those that did were blown away. Those that didn't will forget about it. The latter are irrelevant. The former are who and what matter.