Mustard Plug/The Lippies - Live in Grand Rapids (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Mustard Plug / The Lippies

Live in Grand Rapids (2019)

live show

I look forward to Mustard Plug’s holiday show every year, and after missing the last couple I was especially glad to make it in 2019. The 17th edition was at Elevation in downtown Grand Rapids on Friday, December 27th. The bill was all local this time around, with The Lippies, Dance Contraption and Ugly Flannel providing support. After a fairly stressful Christmas season, it was a great chance to get out and blow off some steam.

We took our wives out to dinner at a hipster restaurant beforehand. It was a devious way to sneak in a date night while also getting a ride downtown. We must have lingered too long over our burgers and beer, because by the time we got to the show The Lippies had just started. For a punk show, this thing was on a tight schedule. Sorry Dance Contraption and Ugly Flannel. I’ll try to do better next time. At the very least, I’ll try to try.

It’s no secret that The Lippies are a favorite of mine, and they were in fine form. They even looked sort of respectable. Like they were going to meet their new love’s parents for the first time or something. Crowd favorite “Thelma and Louis” came early in the set. Later we heard the band’s newest (officially released) song, “Acid Head”. That one came from the 2019 compilation Red Scare Industries:15 Years of Tears and Beers.

No Lippies performance would be complete without a Tonia solo ukulele song, and “Basic Boy” fit that bill. They saved two old favorites for last. The powerful feminist anthem “Sidewalk Talk” was followed by their bounciest, catchiest song, “302”. I think 2020 is going to be a good year for the reunited Lippies. They’ve been back together for a while now, and seem to have their creative juices flowing. “Acid Head” is a good start, and there’s reason to believe that there will be more new music this year.

I’m not exactly sure what time Mustard Plug started. We were quite a few drinks in at that point. Of course MP played their classic “Beer (Song)”, and it was definitely our theme song for the evening. (On a side note, at dinner I tried PBR Extra for the first time. Same lousy taste, now with more alcohol!) At some point Skankin’ Santa hit the stage, and the Mustard Man too. (Santa bore a striking resemblance to a certain Lippies’ bassist, who’s old and gray enough, but not nearly fat enough!) It all added to the celebratory atmosphere.

Familiar favorites included oldies like “Brain on Ska” and “You”. The encore started with their fantastic cover of “The Freshman”, by one time GR major label stars The Verve Pipe. It ended with “We’re Gunna Take on the World”, from 1999’s Pray for Mojo. Mustard Plug have been doing their thing since the year I graduated from high school. (A long, long time ago!) They still tour the world, and show no sign of slowing down any time soon. They have more energy than bands half their age.

It’s also no secret that I’m not a big fan of third wave ska, but still I go to see Mustard Plug year after year. (It’s definitely 30 plus times.) Why? Because it’s fun. It’s always fun. There aren’t many things in life that you can say that about.

Confessions of a merch whore: MP had a pretty good selection of stuff, including a couple records. BUT, I pretty much spent all my money on beer. I did buy a nice embroidered patch though. It had a picture of the Mustard Man and said “Established 1991”. Man, time really does fly when you’re having fun.