Butthole Surfers / Black Dice
Warsaw; Brooklyn, NY

More than any other group that spawned in the ’80s and has made it this far, the Butthole Surfers have the right to laugh in everyone’s face. And, in a sense, that’s what they did at Brooklyn’s Warsaw on a cold December night.

They weren’t ungrateful (though, given their history, that would not surprise), but the Gibby Haynes and Co. were clearly basking in the delight of having weathered anything and everything that’s come their way. Much of that was self-inflicted chaos (gulping acid tabs, violently provoking audiences and countless other instances of not giving a fuck), but that only makes their current success that much more of a death-defying “HA!”

Following a lengthy wait in line under an ominous full moon, Black Dice kicked things off with a potent set of booming and shifting rhythms and noise — a nice warm-up for what followed: “What up, y’all!” Haynes said as the Buttholes took the stage. “Man there’s a bunch of old ass motherfuckers out there.” The band then launched into “22 Going On 23,” a tune that embodies the group’s best exploits — bizarre snapshots of American weirdness, skull-draining guitar psychedelia and Haynes’ unearthly screams.

The rest of the 24-song set shifted mostly between songs from the band’s late-’80s heyday, but also occasionally reached back to their debut 1983 EP and forward to 1993’s Independent Worm Saloon. Yes, forward to 1993. Because a Butthole Surfers show seems to blast from an alternate reality in which the last 20-odd years never existed. Those “old ass motherfuckers” moshed like they were 15 again, and a few even got dragged out by security, likely evoking flashbacks to once being tossed from some 21+ dive. On stage, Haynes, who was on track to be a well-paid accountant when the Buttholes first formed, just seemed to grin at how many wrong decisions led to this triumphant moment.

Butthole Surfers setlist:

[Photo: Kirk R. Tuck]

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