The Flaming Lips, The Dead Weather and White Rabbits

My associate and I drove with haste, we had to make sure and catch the White Rabbits’ set, we were running very late due to my demanding sleep schedule and my associate’s demanding work schedule. We were flying down the highway at high speeds with the radar detector on the dash to avoid any run-ins with police. We only had about twenty minutes to get to Sandstone Amphitheater and with miles ahead of us this lead to tension in the car that could be cut deep with a butter knife. I felt that maybe I should make a joke, maybe a pun about chasing white rabbits but that thought quickly vanished from my mind as I felt way to uneasy to do so. The car felt and sounded like it may fall apart at any time but this did not seem to even affect my associate. He was stoic and completely determined to get us to the show on time.

We arrived to the amphitheater with a little bit of time in our pocket but destiny would have us meet more problems when we tried to obtain our press passes at the box office. I felt I should let my associate handle things, keep your temper cool, I told myself, remember what happened at Worlds of Fun last summer.

After some heated calls, we both made it in just in time to catch the start of White Rabbits. The best part about White Rabbits is their unconventional artistic style with a multitude of instruments, I can’t say I have ever seen war drums and piano put together before, The war drums bring an element of huge sound that pumps you up and the piano seems to act like a filter for that energy making a product that is somewhere between an upper and a downer, so let’s call it ‘uplifting indie.’ The music they played sounded something like a crossbreed between U2 and Radiohead (or at least their radio songs, the rest of their stuff sounds like it should be in a Wes Anderson movie or some kind of indie flick). However, the thing White Rabbits do that the two bands I just mentioned do not is put on a great live show without any audience needed. Because while White Rabbits were playing their first few songs, the crowd was just arriving and what do people do before finding a place in front of the stage? They stand in ridiculously long lines to buy beer; it was kind of tragic, that people put beer before music and good music at that. However this did not dampen the mood of White Rabbits they were in their home state of Missouri and came on the stage and played their hearts out, fully enjoying themselves, and still going to make their well known tremendous energy with an audience or without one. With only a thirty minute set, they didn’t get to cover a lot of their two album catalog and sadly that included their epic Bob Dylan Maggies Farm cover, but they did play some songs from the new album that sounded great. This set was a much more condensed version of their usual self proclaimed “big” sound. I have added White Rabbits to my “band Bucket list” and I hope to see them again soon but next time in a club, with more time, and their actual fans attending, so till then.

Note for the reader: you’re about to read about The Dead Weather written by one of the power freak ticket journalists so, light a cigarette even if you don’t smoke, scream at the top of your lungs till it hurts and get ready, things are about to get weird, you’ve been warned.

It’s odd seeing a supergroup (a band composed of iconic members of previous bands). Best example I can give at the moment would be Them Crooked vultures. For the first time your expectations are always very high and The Dead Weather did not disappoint but the crowd (filled with modern age dead heads) did. They only got fired up once but The Dead Weather overcame and put on one hell of a show. The band came on the stage to a haunting southern blues intro and they came to get weird and play musical chairs, they meant business, especially Alison Mosshart another punk artist from Florida. She grabbed the mic with a cigarette in her between hers lips and just went nuts moving her body in all sorts of strange patterns to the music, it was like nothing I have ever seen. It was chaotic and yet graceful, it seemed almost choreographed and to add to her level of kickass she has one hell of a voice, but American Idol be damned her voice was nothing mainstream. These qualities made me understand why she was considered iconic and why she made such a great addition to The Dead Weather. Moving on, only one thought came to mind watching The Dead Weather and that one thought is this band has spun out of control and it happened before the first song was even half way through, but this was not even close to a bad thing, it was a triple shot of madness. Song after song after song was just wild and not just the music, the band put out energy that’s raw and crazy; and craziness lives on forever and so would this performance. Sometime before the song Treat me like your Mother, all the band members did their first “musical chair shuffle”  (if you don’t understand think about how you and your friends play Rock Band, that’s right kids! you got it) and this time it was Jack White’s turn to do vocals and the crowd went absolutely nutter butter. People love to argue about who the great musicians are but no one can deny or argue Jack White’s place as one of the greatest musicians of all time and one of the strangest of all time. So when he started singing his first song of the night and well it fell flat……..no I’m just kidding it was amazing and I was so glad I was there that night to see The iconic Dead Weather.

Watching the roadies for The Flaming Lips (that were dressed in some very cool costumes that I can only describe as looking like something from the electric company) assemble one of the oddest stage set ups I have ever seen, it made me fill up with a little bit of confusion and a lot of excitement. I had no idea what kind of show I was about to see, but I was about to find out it was going to be made up of dancing people, dancing animals and there would be machines! Yes sir, the freaks were about to unite a.k.a. my kind of people. The band entered the stage through a giant screen that displayed some giant naked woman and of course the doors were located right between her legs so to put it bluntly the band entered through a giant women’s vagina and the band members hugged each other, greeted the crowed and started playing. All members except Mr. Wayne Coyne (my new all time favorite artist) he we was too busy rolling around on the crowd in a giant hamster ball.

The Flaming Lips put on a very long show but not a second of it was dull from the feel good fun times like during the song, ‘I can be a frog’ where the crowd would make the coordinated animal sound when the animal was announced. To the more serious and more meaningful moments like when Wayne Coyne talked about how love is the most important part of our existence or when he talked about the war in Iraq and now Afghanistan saying, “I don’t know if this war is ever going to end but put your two fingers up (peace sign) and let’s send the kind of positive energy over that would end this war almost like two beams were coming out of your fingers tips.” When the hands raised, they released so much energy that no one in the amphitheater could deny what was going on. It was so hard not to be swept up by an atmosphere of smiles, love, understanding, weirdness, and all together just good vibrations that only with the right kind of mind could you begin to understand what was going on in that moment (and I’m not really talking about drugs).

After about a good hour and forty minutes of playing the band left the stage but did not stay gone for long. The crowd screamed for them and they, naturally, could not resist the buzz. They came back on the stage, but not to play Flaming Lips songs but to cover the last couple of songs from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and they did it to perfection. However, the greatest part was that the band had a sixteen year old kid come on stage and play the Floyd cover songs with them and why? Well about a year ago the kid lost his Dad to cancer and at the funeral the song Do You Realize was played in tribute to his father. This touched the members of The Flaming Lips so much they invited the kid to come tour with them, so not only are The Flaming Lips an iconic Grammy winning band but they’re also great people.

The show ended after a few more songs, the band members said their goodbyes to the crowd, hugged each other and left the stage, this time for good. They put on the perfect show and my only gripe is that to cover what happened that night properly I would at least need to write fifteen pages to tell you about it and who would sit down and read fifteen pages? Well not nearly enough people.

The night was over as quickly as it began and as I walked back to the car I was trying to sort out in my mind what had just happened. I thought this was not the stuff that could ever be found in the foul year of 2010 or even in the last thirty years. The show was some sort of small window to the past, it was only open for one night. You would need a ticket to go, you could not stay forever, and it would leave you with mixed feelings that perhaps it could happen again. That all of this positive energy would spread like a wave that could not be stopped from the amphitheater, take hold of the world and fix all of it’s problems no matter how big or small. The dream of the new frontier would be realized but on the other hand there was a dark suspicion that maybe we missed the train from the 60’s and the early 70’s were over, ended by four bullets entering and exiting four champions of their time and you, just like all of the other rubes we were doomed.

I give The Flaming Lips, The Dead Weather and White Rabbits 5 “Naked ladies” out of 5

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by Josh Davis

Photos By Kelly Powell / Elements Studio

Josh

About Josh

First and foremost Josh is a wino and an all around dangerous individual. Second, Josh is a political junkie, a wildlife aficionado, and a history enthusiast who aspires to be a raw mix between James Carville, Steve Irwin, Anderson Cooper, Iggy Pop, and a clown car. Most importantly, Josh is high consumer of "fuel," whether it be music, documentaries, or just some fun with friends and some cheap beers, it's all "fuel" and Josh is a very heavy consumer.

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