The Black Lips are noted for provocative theatrics – including vomiting (Cole's medical condition), urination, nudity, electric R.C. car races, fireworks, a chicken, flaming guitars and other un-predictable antics. These have been inspired by the "punk-before-punk" Viennese Actionism movement in Austriaand the infamous actionist hardcore punk musician GG Allin according to Alexander.Most of these antics, which are the center of attention in media coverage of the band, occurred in the band's early days, a time when the band had not yet learned how to play their instruments.The frequency of the group's outrageous stage antics has declined slightly, as they claim to have matured "a little bit".Despite frequent media attention surrounding their antics, Swilley says "it doesn't seem all that crazy to me. It’s not like we have ever done a human sacrifice on stage or anything like that.”
They played at Heaven in London on September 16, 2008, which ended with a classic stage invasion, and has become their most popular live YouTube video.The group has expressed interest in playing venues and countries that typically don't see many rock bands perform. They've said they'd like to play Africa, South America, China, and Indonesia, but have not done so yet.In 2010 the band toured Australia, New Zealand and Japan. In conjunction with SPINearth.tv, the group documented the behind the scenes footage of their infamous antics.In 2012 the band performed a long discussed Middle East tour which included dates in Iraq and several other countries in the region.