The Flaming Lips are a band that I guarantee you have probably heard so many times in your life, but didn’t realize it. They’ve also got one of the most fun and quirky live shows that you’re bound to see any time soon. Talk to anyone who listens to the Lips and they’re sure to ask you, “dude have you ever seen them live? You gotta!”. And it’s true, you have to see them live at least once in your life. Currently, the band are performing two nights in a row in Lawrence’s Liberty Hall to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the theater. I went to the first night, and what a celebration it was. A celebration of the weird and psychadelic!
This was my fourth time seeing the Lips, and definitely the most intimate, topping the Uptown Theater performance that I saw in 2007. I always forget how small Liberty Hall is, until I step inside. It’s tiny. But that didn’t stop frontman Wayne Coyne from setting up shop. The band still managed to bring in their famous screen, their confetti cannons, and of course the dozens and dozens of giant balloons. A new addition to the stage show included tons of rope lights all taped together hanging from the ceiling, stretching all the way out on the sides of the theater, up to the Balcony, that appeared like digital rain when turned on. Or something like that. One of the things that I’ve always admired about The Flaming Lips’ stage setup, is that everything is essentially made by the band and their crew in Wayne’s backyard. So everything feels super DIY.
Another thing I’ve always admired about the band’s live show is how they make the wait before their performance seem so epic. Between the entire band setting up their own gear, their custom audio/visual test, the crew constantly throwing their arms up to the crowd inciting massive applause, and Wayne giving a pre-show speech, their is plenty to keep you occupied and to get you excited for what’s ahead.
Then it started. A naked woman danced around on the screen until sitting down and spreading her legs, in which a trap door opened up on the screen, and the band emerges from her nether regions. Yeah, that happened. Next, Wayne entered his signature giant plastic hamster ball, and launched himself out over the crowd, literally walking up to the balcony and touching the front row through the plastic, before quickly rolling right on top of my head. I touched his knee, I think? It all happened so damn fast. But it was awesome. Once back on the stage, the band launched into Worm Mountain, off of 2009′s Embryonic, launching giant balloons and spraying confetti over the entire venue.
From that point on it was a pure psychedelic treat. Over the course of the next hour and 45 minutes, The Flaming Lips brought out everything from dancing Dorothy’s from The Wizard Of Oz, blow up mascots, tons of lasers, even more confetti, even more balloons, some filled with even MORE confetti, and then a giant pair of hands with lasers in the palms that Wayne shone onto a huge disco ball suspended above the stage. There is just so much to look at, and so much fun to be had at a Lips show.
The two nights in Lawrence are also somewhat of a homecoming show for The Lips, as their drummer Kliph Scurlock actually lives in Lawrence. Anytime he walked on stage the crowd went nuts. Including when he popped out to introduce the show’s opening band Deerhoof, proclaiming they were his favorite band in the world. I’d never really heard Deerhoof before but I’m sold. They were so unbelievably weird and chaotic. It was almost as if Dillinger Escape Plan were a weird psychedelic band or something, mixed with these fantastic child-like Japanese vocals from singer Satomi Matsuzaki. They were a blast to watch, between Satomi’s ninja kicks while playing bass, to the drummer’s ridiculously hard hitting style. At times you couldn’t take your eyes off of him. Kliph came out and played drums on one song, before the band closed out their set with a fun little number about bunnies and basketball.
I’m not sure what will happen at night two, but a big surprise for night one was The Flaming Lips coming out for their first encore, performing a cover of King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man” with everyone in Deerhoof. It was loud, and it was amazing. Everyone on stage was having so much fun, and Deerhoof looked so stoked to be there.
So if you’re going tonight, you’re surely in for a blissfully psychedelic treat from The Flaming Lips. Please do yourself the favor of showing up early for Deerhoof. You won’t regret it.
She Don’t Use Jelly
The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song
Is David Bowie Dying??
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1
See the Leaves
Pompeii Am Götterdämmerung
What Is the Light?
21st Century Schizoid Man (with Deerhoof)
Do You Realize??
Stay tuned tomorrow, for Night Two coverage!
By Richard Pepper
Photos By Richard Pepper