Live music is fun. By it’s very nature, it is a large mass of people (or if the band sucks, a couple) paying a substantial amount of money, traveling, and listening to a group of professionals play an instrument and a series of songs with which you have a personal connection. In the many concerts I have been to, none have managed to make a live event feel so much like a live event as much as The Flaming Lips.
The Flaming Lips traveled to Bloomington, Indiana for a show to kick off Little 5 week. The sold-out crowd was buzzing, which is an interesting change of pace from most other concerts I have been to at this venue. While most are awesome acts (Wilco, Ben Folds, Jerry Seinfeld), none of them have possessed the overall energy that The Flaming Lips brought to town, and it was electric from the first note on. Opening act Stardeath and White Dwarves were dark, moody, and grungy, and set the tone quite nicely for the main event.
This is perhaps the first concert I have ever been to where the headlining band made their presence felt so much before a show. Wayne Coyne was able to be seen multiple times before the band took their set. He went around the arena throwing out laser pointers, shooting streamers, waving at fans, and generally being as cool a guy as you can possibly be. The coolest part? He was on the side of the stage watching Stardeath and White Dwarves as if he was a big fan of their’s.
The Flaming Lips took the stage, but not ordinarily as you were probably already expecting. No, they were birthed out of the vagina of a go-go dancer on the big, bright screen at the back of the stage. But when you’re coming on stage to an instrumental called “In Excelsior Vaginalistic”, it had to be expected.
What then took place is what I can only describe as the biggest visual feast I have ever been a part of at a live show. Confetti, literally pounds of it, pouring from the ceiling while huge, bouncy balloons hopped around the entire crowd. Wayne got into his big sphere and attempted to walk on the crowd, but the venue’s set-up wouldn’t allow it. Still, the guy tried half a dozen times.
The set of music was absolutely perfect, and their was a new visual element added to each song to make it unique. There were dancers in track suits to the side of the stage, and those were joined by a fifteen foot tall catfish and caterpillar about half way through. The aforementioned laser pointers played a big part, as the crowd was instructed to shoot them at Wayne at a specific moment, where he reflected the tiny red specks of light off of a mirror and back into the audience. He put on gigantic, oversized hands and shot huge green lasers out of them into the crowd during another song too. Trust me, there was a LOT going on at all times.
What transpired was easily the most visual live show I have ever been to. While some bands work just fine on stage with their instruments with very little in the technical department, The Flaming Lips made sure their show wasn’t just a concert, but an experience in itself. They succeeded as perfectly as possible. There was never a dull moment, never a check of the time to see how long the set had gone on, nothing but pure visual and auditory stimulation.
The set perfectly melded songs from their newest album Embryonic with favorites off of previous albums. I was glad to see them not devote too much to their Dark Side of the Moon cover. Their encore did feature one performance from that as they were joined by Stardeath and White Dwarves on stage, and it was really something special. I think the unique feature of it is what made it feel so special.
Even if you aren’t a fan of The Flaming Lips, I would recommend going to one of their live shows if you get a chance. It is less a concert and more of an event, and it is an absolute blast. The band played a great mix of songs from their catalogue and had a real crowd-pleasing set of music to go along with their obvious visual prowess. It is truly one of the most unique events I have ever been to, and I will see them again any time I get the chance.
In Excelsior Vaginalistic*
Silver Trembling Hands
Yeah Yeah Yeah Song
In the Morning of the Magician
Vein of Stars
She Don’t Use Jelly
I Can Be A Frog
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robot (Part 1 only)
See the Leaves
Pompeii Am Gotterdammerung
Convinced of the Hex
Brain Damage >> Eclipse (Featuring Stardeath & White Dwarfs)
Do You Realize??
Final Score: 9.9/10 (AMAZING)
**ALL PHOTOS ARE MINE**