The Flaming Lips @ Central Park’s Summerstage (07.26.10)
Miracled once again. This was a special miracle for me. The Flaming Lips were announced earlier in the year and I completely geeked out because it was on Parks land. This meant that I was on my home turf and could play freely 🙂 However, then I realized I couldn’t go because I had a prior family engagement. It was rumored that the first set was going to be pulls from The Flaming Lips catalog while the second set was going to be a Dark Side of the Moon cover. Oh man. By the time I realized I would be able to go, the show had been sold out for weeks. The, the week before the show, my friend Justin wrote me and asked me if I might be interested and the rest is history. I WAS SO HAPPY!!!…for the most part.
Bobby Matador – organ, guitar, vocals
Baby Hanoi Jane – guitar, bass
We arrived in the middle of the opening band, Oneida. Dear God, my ears…that is all I was thinking. I was not alone as I noticed around me, similar scrunched faces of those with confused and hurting ears. It wasn’t until about the third song that they finally caught my ear. However, in the end I truly disliked whatever it was they were doing on that stage. After a little research, it appears NOISE ROCK is their forte. Seriously, so out of control…noise is a perfect description.
Their last song was decent, going out on a lesser then decent note, but ultimately like rock annoyance. I ask you, who picks these bands? WHY was this band picked? Did they win some NYC based-contest? Did they pick the short straw? Seriously…
Now on to real music…well, barely.
The Flaming Lips went on around 9pm. The stage was decorated with a giant half-moon screen in the background of the stage behind the band set-up. When the images finally started shooting across the giant screen, there were various cartoon images, newspaper headlines and then mainly warlike images. Eventually the images morphed into an image of a psychedelic lady dancing in a sea of background blue. With trippy chanting in the background combined with ethereal measures, the dancing female image wiggled around the screen, the screen sporadically zooming in and out of her lower body. Eventually, you could see a spot light up between the dancers legs. The light grew brighter and the screen zoomed closer to the spot between her legs until she was on her back, legs spread….light bright…the members were birthed onto the stage…….and…well
Wayne Coyne, what a beautiful weirdo. From there, Wayne jumped into a giant plastic bubble ball, the music playing as it filled with air. And then He bubble surfed the crowd. I had heard of this bubble surfing act, thinking that our audience tonight would be neither tight nor large enough…I was wrong. On his first attempt, nothing happened. We were all too slow and he had to walk back to the stage, gesturing with his hands what he needed to make this stunt work. He needed his audience.
Ok, now feel free to explain that insanity in words. All I can say is that we were birthed onto the stage. Unreal. At this point all I can think about is Slava’s Snow Show. That this was some kind of sick extension of Cirque du Soleil.
After everyone was birthed out and the balls were done rolling, Wayne spoke:
“Thank you for coming. This is the f*#king best night of the summer. It’s wonderful how the universe is cooperating. We are all together. It’s as if we we’re all the womb together…back together again. Come on, come with me. Come on, come on….”
And he jumped around the stage as chaos occurred with flashing lights, explosive streamers, pounding drums and raging guitar. There were tons of young dancers (not really sure of their purpose) flanking the band. This entire thing was just one rock opera from beginning to end. Immediately, I realized I was in for a spectacle, not a performance. Ok, well, once I wrapped my head around that, I immediately embraced the show for what it was.
By Silver Trembling Hands, the entire band had finally taken thier place on stage. There was yelling by Wayne Coyne, a huge drummer rage by Kliph Scurlock. There were streamers flowing from the stage lighting, the turf ground was covered in confetti and the energy was high.
When She Uses Jelly came on the crowd went wild. If you know nothing about The Flaming Lips, you should at least recognize this song. This is not a great song, it’s actually kinda lame, but it’s nostalgic as all hell.
Before they went into The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song, Wayne spoke again about being “pissed off about Bush…our Previous president, GWB.” The crowd booed and hissed
“You know, we write about things that pissed us off. Attempt to come up with a conclusion. And so we write and we hope to change the world, we hope to change you, we hope to change each other…if only for a moment. And if only for that moment, we feel less helpless.”
And the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s led the way with visions of mouths and bubble words coming out of them on the screen behind the band. This song had me dancing at times after the Yeah Yeahs stopped and they would actually play some music. And again with the cute lyrics attempting to make a statement, evoke thought:
If you could blow up the world with the flick of a switch / Would you do it? / If you could make everybody poor just so you could be rich / Would you do it? / If you could watch everybody work while you just lay on your back / Would you do it? / If you could take all the love without giving any back / Would you do it? / And so we cannot know ourselves or what we’d really do…
Clapping commenced and there was major rage. Just so many bells and whistles that I truly can’t comment on the music. The music was just there, creating a backdrop for this spectacular fiasco of crazy.
There were now images of breakfast food on the screen. My stomach started to hurt so I decided to walk around. I made my way towards the bathrooms but not before making my way up front to check out the scene. It was actually kind of tough to get up there. I only wanted a few pictures and to check out the feel for the front.
When I arrived to the railing, it was covered in YOUNG teenage kids, dressed up in costumes, more like prom dresses, and wigs. They were completely BLISSED OUT. Then I noticed the stage was covered with 20-somethings dancing like the music was flowing through them like Ecstasy.
You know, who cares what I think…that is what this group showed me. It’s like church, who cares if not everyone understands the concept. The power of the group had me radiating happiness and the group truly does touch people with these nutty antics.
This group really touches its audience and die-hard Lip fans come from a specific strain of blissed-out hippies. Wayne continued to engage the audience:
“You know when a dream is so good, that when you wake up…your life is not as good as your dream. And you wish you could just live forever…”
He had lost me but the deep bass caught my ear and The Morning of the Musicians rang across the park. For I Can Be a Frog, there was a call and response beginning. Wayne explained the directions to the audience by telling us that whatever he sang, we were to emulate in sound in response. If he said “Cow”, we had to “Moo.” If he said “Dog, we had to “Woof.” This was pure sillyness. I heard lion’s “Rawrs”, and cat’s “Howls.” When he said Helicopter, then it got a little silly. People made all kinds of sounds. I again got distracted by the audience.
I decided I had had enough of this show. It was nothing against the Lips. I loved their energy and that was one of the most interesting shows I had ever seen. However, I am not genuinely intrigued by these kind of performances for very long. As well, it didn’t help that it was a Tuesday night and as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t digest the energy being thrown at me and thrive off it. I knew I had to go to bed soon and didn’t want to get all roweled up. There was so much going on, it made me tired. I thought I was going to hear some raging rock music. Instead, I was distracted by all the other layers of fun times they were throwing at me.
I left the concert only a few songs before the end. There was no Dark Side of the Moon performance and I was very thankful for that the following day as that was the only regret I had from leaving early. I thought later, perhaps they were going to show off their musical abilities by focusing on only the music during the second set but that never happened. I had a fun night but I wouldn’t pay $50 to see these guys. Look forward to seeing them in a festival setting one day though….
Setlist: The Fear, Worm Mountain, Silver Trembling Hands, She Don’t Use Jelly, The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song, The Sparrow Looks Up At The Machine, In The Morning of the Magicians, I Can Be A Frog, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1, See The Leaves, Pompeii Am Gotterdammerung, Taps, The W.A.N.D.
Encore: Do You Realize??