Saturday, August 01, 2009

Flaming Lips

Flaming Lips @ Festival Hall
29th July 2009

My two hopes for this gig: Wayne Coyne in a bubble strolling over the punters (check), and a live rendition of Race For the Prize (woohoo, check!).

We used to listen to The F'lips every Friday afternoon in the lab. It was the perfect way to end the working week and, of course, we secretly hoped that Coyne was singing about us and our research when he says:

Two scientists were racing

For the good of all mankind

Both of them side by side

So determined

Locked in heated battle

For the cure that is their prize

But it's so dangerous

But they're determined

We can dream can't we?

The Flaming Lips are famous for their spectacular live shows: dancing furry animals situated stage left and right, "magical spheres" gently punched in the air and regular bouts of confetti/streamers snowed on the happy crowd. To the punters' delight, the band delivered all this and more on Wednesday night. All aspects of our aural and visual senses were assaulted: video projections, strobe lighting, giant caterpillars - you could even feel the bass through the floorboards.

In some ways, all this spectacle might equate distraction and render the band as mere soundtrack. During some parts of the evening, all this fervent energy threatened to outdo the true core of an amazing awesome gig: so, was the music any good?

The music of the F'lips veers from sweet, wobbley melodies and characters (think Yoshimi) to crashing, crunching white noise - sometimes within the same song. The production on the night was definitely not as slick as some of their records, and the songs had quite a rough sound at times. The set included a few new songs, and plenty of sing-a-long moments including: The Fight Test, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and Do You Realise?.

My favourite aspect of this gig how inclusive it felt - Coyne is a charismatic front man and speaks to everyone in the room (even the poor souls on the outer edges of Festy Hall). The energy in the room was simply amazing. I think this is what separates the Flaming Lips from other, more pedestrian bands: it was an incredible, intense experience - the animals, the music, the confetti, it was just so much fun. Everything you might expect from the F'lips. I have been finding random bits of orange and yellow confetti in my jacket and purse the last couple of days, and am happy to be reminded of this wonderful gig this week.

So when Coyne asks us all to join in a mass karate chop during Yoshimi (it's our only chance to karate chop in the evening after all) - who are we to say no?