I figure I should post my experiences of this concert before they escape me permanently. I got into the Flaming Lips my freshman year of college, when my roommate David introduced me to their 1999 album, The Soft Bulletin. My taste in music was still somewhat raw, but I recognized that songs like "Race for the Prize" and "The Spiderbite Song" were pretty dang entertaining. From there, I picked up the follow-up album, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, which stood out a little more to me. I like robots, you see. Before I left for my mission, I got two of their other albums, and after my mission, I snagged every used album of theirs I could find at Graywhale.
I love their music because they've reinvented themselves just about every album, but there's a glorified weirdness to it all. It's quirky, catchy, and very pensive at times. The Flaming Lips' music speaks to me, and it says some tripped-out things. So when I heard that the Lips scheduled a concert in Salt Lake for September 17, I had to be there. Two tickets purchased, immediately. It wasn't till later that I realized that this was the night of the BYU/Utah football game, which I had already bought a ticket for, but I decided, "BYU football is entertaining, but music is closer to my heart." I gave away my football ticket, called up David and told him I had a ticket for him to one of the craziest nights of his life (in retrospect, that was a brilliant move, as that game was hardly entertaining from a Cougar's perspective).
Now, I'd heard from the Internet some ridiculous things about Flaming Lips shows, things so crazy the Lips earned the title "One of the 50 Bands You Must See Live Before You Die." The infamous space ball comes to mind. But the Saltair didn't seem to be able to support such a show. It's a pretty big venue, but nothing compared to the arenas the Flaming Lips played on all those YouTube videos. Anyways, before the music starts, the lead singer Wayne Coyne comes to the stage. Cheering erupts. He warns the front row that their light show is extremely bright and strobe-oriented, so if anyone should feel a migraine or epilectic reaction coming on, that they look away or find a safer place to enjoy the concert. Also, Wayne confirmed that the space ball would make its appearance (yes!!) and that he would wander around the whole audience so that no one would feel inclined to stampede to the ball and cause any undue injury. So before anything, the lead singer of the band wanted us to know how to enjoy the concert to its fullest. Impressive.
The Lips opened with "Worm Mountain," my favorite track from their newest album, Embryonic. The severely distorted bass riff, the chaotic synth work, the overuse of crash cymbals, the psychedelic lyrics, the hyperbolic light show. All of it at once was jaw-dropping.David turned to me and whispered (he probably shouted it, but my ears were still ringing),
"Sensory overload." To which I responded,
"That was the first song."
And so it continued. They had plenty of variety in their setlist, balancing the rock-out songs with the breather tracks. I'll dig into my brain to recall what they played (songs that I wasn't expecting them to play but was really, really glad they did will be in bold):
She Don't Use Jelly
The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song
Vein of Stars
See the Leaves
Is David Bowie Dying?
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1
Pompeii am Götterdämmerung
What Is the Light?
Race for the Prize
Do You Realize??
What made the concert so enjoyable was that the band put their all into making sure we, as an audience, had the time of our lives. They played some of their most uplifting songs, and their theatrics did not disappoint in the slightest. That was definitely one of the top five concerts I've ever attended. And I've already said it more than once, the Flaming Lips may well be the band of the century. But only because I love hyperbole. Photos below.
[During an extended outro of "See the Leaves," Wayne puts on a pair of huge hands that shot lasers everywhere. The sinister synth line at the end of the song is really what made it so amazing.]
[An audience member dressed up as a rabbit and hopped on stage to give Wayne a hug. Seriously, what is there not to expect at a concert like this?]