Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Flaming Lips in Concert (or, why Fun is Good)

The guy across the aisle- the one with the dreadlocks and tie-dye shirt- kept writing short messages on pieces of cardboard, reading them to people who came by, and forcing them into high-fiving him. Given the general mood of the crowd, people reciprocated with no hesitation. After a while, he walked over to the girl next to me and asked her to write his next message. Again, no hesitation, and soon he was holding a sign reading simply "Fun is Good", screaming the uplifting message at the top of his lungs.


I could stop here and say that what I have just written perfectly encapsulates what a Flaming Lip's concert is like, but seeing as this is a music blog and everything, ya'll are probably more concerned with, well, the music. So here I go- my pathetic attempt to describe a concert which is truly unable to be understood by those who haven't experienced it themselves.

First off, I should note that I missed the first act- Stardeath and White Dwarfs- although I heard they were good (not from the dreadlocks guy, a more reliable source...the drunk guy sitting to my left.) Then Explosions in the Sky (at right) took the stage. With four guys,
three on guitar, one on drums, they were the first entirely instrumental band I'd ever seen. With no lyrics to follow along to, the audience was able to focus on the wall of sound these four superb musicians were able to make. Later on, Wayne Coyne of the Lips would describe them as "beautiful and epic", which, coming from a man like himself, probably convinces you, blog reader, about how good they are more than I could have in 500 words. I'll leave you to check them out yourself.




Now, as for the Lips, let me just start with a tad bit of backstory to my obsession. You see, since I was a wee-freshman, they have been that bandfor me, you know? This, of course, means that the majority of their songs are somehow attached to my high school experience (see my yearbook quote...what can I say, "Do You Realize" is just so good). So, seeing them the night before I left for college threw some sentiment into the mix. Then throw in the awesome confetti and balloon's, and you've pretty much got yourself the ideal concert situation. Finally, the opening act- where the band members walked through the screen out of the glowing vagina of a holographic dancer, starting off with "Race for the Prize", from "The Soft Bulletin" (this writers personal favorite album), I knew I was sold to the t-shirts outside, which read something like "I saw the Flaming Lips in concert and it changed my life." This whole scenario was the peak of the show.

From there, they dabbled off of stuff from more recent albums. Some expected highlights were the sing-along "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots pt. 1", as well as "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song". However, I was extremely disappointed at their performance of "Fight Test", my favorite of theirs. I hoped that the chopped up style he sang the song with was more similar to an engine revving, eventually catching and exploding with passion and confetti. Yet, it never did catch- it only dwindled away, crushing my astronomically high expectations for that song live. So it goes, I suppose.

A somewhat related visual accompaniment on the screen behind the band was present for every song, such as the classic clip from a 1994 Jon Stuart show as he introduces the Flaming Lip's playing "She Don't Use Jelly" as that song was introduced. They also played a handful of new songs, two of which they had promised the Pitchfork audience they wouldn't play for any other audience. They also might have told the Boston audience not to tell anyone, and I might be putting this up publicly so as to garner the attention
of the Flaming Lips and therefore have my lifelong dream come true of meeting them personally. Fingers crossed.

They played live for the first time (if you can trust Wayne's promises...) a song off of their upcoming double album "Embryonic" (due out October 13th, pictured at right) called "See the Leaves". It's an interesting song, louder and more guitar led than anything they've released in quite some time. Not their best, but certainly not their worst.



As expected, their encore was none other than "Do You Realize", that yearbook-quotable, car commercial soundtrack masterpiece off of their 2002 release "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots". This one was drawn out too, but it was a fitting sentimental end to a fitting sentimental night. I would recommend seeing them to anyone I know. Even if you aren't a big listener, when it comes down to it, people dressed in absurd costumes, insane amounts of confetti and balloons, and a spectacular stage set could keep anyone entertained for hours. That's probably because, well, Fun is Good.

Listen:

Explosions in the Sky - Memorial
buy Explosions in the Sky

Flaming Lips - Do You Realize (Postal Service Remix)
Flaming Lips - The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song

buy Flaming Lips

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