AN ACID FREE TRIP: THE FLAMING LIPS CONCERT EXPERIENCE

It’s all in the title: The Flaming Lips, an alternative band with psychedelic visions, has been movin’ and groovin’ since 1983, and I happened to be lucky enough to catch them on their latest tour for their new album, “Oczy Mlody”. It’s an eclectic and trippy album including songs entitled “There Will Be Unicorns” and “Listening to the Frogs with Demon Eyes”.

I had previously seen The Flaming Lips on Miley Cyrus’s Milky Milky Milk tour. Miley Cyrus and The Flaming Lips have been known to collaborate in recent years and “Oczy Mlody” is no exception. At the time of the Milky Milky Milk concert, I was not acquainted with The Flaming Lips. The wild Milky Milky Milk show should have hinted at the craziness I would experience at The Flaming Lips‘ concert: both performances had very similar onstage setups, stunts, and energy.

The Flaming Lips concert was at The Fillmore in Philadelphia, where there were about 5 rows of hanging LED string lights separating the stage into different sections and had lead singer Wayne Coyne behind one row of hanging lights. The backdrop was a massive LED screen. The string lights and LED coordinated to make vivid eye-candy, which heightened the experience of each song. A disco ball was centered at the top of the stage, reflecting and mirroring the designs and lights.

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The opener for the show was Clipping, a noise-rap-hip-hop trio. I personally had never heard of Clipping before the show, but I was quite impressed. The leading man’s, (Daveed Diggs) verses were complicated and catchy. There were no visual gimmicks during this part, only the black and white flashing patterns on the LED screen that helped energize the crowd and made everyone focus on the music.

The Flaming Lips‘ first song was accompanied by an insane light show, followed by showers of confetti and gigantic balloons, turning the room into one massive party. They then transitioned into their well known song, “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part 1”, and the entire crowd danced and sang along. The balloons volleyed around and confetti rained for the next few songs; insanely colorful designs and pictures flooded the LED screen and connected string lights. One balloon, with the message “f**k yeah Philly” was released into the crowd. This craziness was soon accompanied by blow up dancing figures: huge inflatable animals— with people inside of them— that waddled and swayed onstage.

The next massive surprise was during a song from “Oczy Mlody” and “There Will Be Unicorns”. Wayne Coyne, the lead singer, appeared riding a light-up stuffed unicorn, presumably on wheels, through the crowd. He passed a few feet in front of me, wearing a skin tight suit with inflatable rainbow wings. The rest of the band played onstage while he traveled through the crowd singing the song, eventually returning to the stage to perform the next piece.

In the intervals between the crazy stunts, songs were accompanied with psychedelic designs and lights. During one song, they brought on a giant inflatable rainbow, blowing it up for Coyne to sing under. Following the departure of the inflatable rainbow, Coyne shared a short story about one of the past concerts, with the moral “never doubt the rainbow”.

The last massive stunt occurred during The Flaming Lips’ rendition of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”. Coyne came onto the stage in a giant plastic ball and proceeded to crawl through the audience in the gigantic bubble. Coyne eventually ended up towards the back, stood up inside the ball and finished the song, singing to the people in the second-level sitting areas.

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Overall the concert was a color explosion and the trippy imagery was gorgeous and matched well with the music. The Flaming Lips released some confetti towards the end of the concert and lowered the disco ball to the middle of the stage for one of their songs. They finished with “Do You Realize??”, a very popular song, and another spectacular light show. I personally wish that The Flaming Lips had saved some of their stunts, balloons, and confetti for the end of the show, as their insane opening left me craving more weird experiential stuff in the audience. But, overall, this concert was incredibly fun. The Flaming Lips are still on tour, so if you can catch them, that ticket is worth everything!

 

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