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 The Flaming Lips in Seattle
Author: Delvin 
Date:   05-17-17 14:52

This was our first Flaming Lips show, and although we'd really looked forward to it -- more than we did Los Lobos or U2, I have to admit -- we were feeling a bit burned out by Tuesday night. With three concerts in four days (plus my show), this spate of concerts was ending up like a slog to the finish line. But we both woke up this morning feeling rejuvenated.

It was easily the goofiest spectacle I've ever seen staged in the name of rock. From the cannons shooting out confetti and the huge bouncing balloons thrown into the crowd, to all the inflatable characters and other props on stage, to an enormous light show, including lasers and a full projection screen, they pulled out all the stops. We couldn't stop grinning and laughing the whole show.

That said, I had been a bit concerned that, for me at least, it'd end up being about little more than the visuals. The records that the Lips have put out since Embryonic have been no great shakes, IMO. One of them, The Terror, probably is the worst album I've heard by a favorite artist since Prince's The Rainbow Children. I knew they'd deliver a full-blown feast for the eyes, but I feared that they'd let my ears down.

But they came through, almost as if they'd read my mind. They gave some time to their newest album, Oczy Mlody, and went back to their '90s nugget "She Don't Use Jelly," but otherwise focused on the "symphonic" trilogy -- The Soft Bulletin, Yoshimi and At War with the Mystics. That phase of the band's career isn't every fan's cup of lysergically spiked tea, I'm sure, but it's very dear to our hearts.

The show lasted a lot longer than the setlist might suggest, mainly because of all the time it took to roll out props between songs. Most of the performances hewed close to the studio originals, the main exception being "Waiting for Superman," performed with just piano and voice. Wayne's occasional patter between songs didn't help either. He seems to have a hard time maintaining his train of thought long enough for a coherent story. (I suspect quite a few brain cells have taken it on the lam permanently from inside his skull.)

But we walked out after the final encore, grinning and glowing, not talking all the way back to the car. My wife finally broke the silence with, "How many concerts have we seen? Hundreds! And that one just vaulted up into the top five, practically from the first song."

Race for the Prize
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
There Should Be Unicorns
Pompeii am Götterdämmerung
The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song
What Is the Light?
The Observer
Space Oddity
Feeling Yourself Disintegrate
The Castle
Are You a Hypnotist?
The W.A.N.D.
A Spoonful Weighs a Ton

She Don't Use Jelly

Waiting for Superman
Do You Realize??

A Dutch quartet named Klangstof opened the show. They built their music up slowly, and evolved it from one selection to the next. They played at least four songs in their first salvo, segue'ing them from one into the next so gracefully that it took me a minute or so to realize it was a different song, each time. (And no, those blended songs didn't all have the same rhythm.) They got to use the Lips' stage FX too, with a full moon projected behind them, growing from a small dot to eventually fill the screen behind them. They had a bit of a Kraftwerk vibe, with a Sonic Youth veneer layered on top whenever the guitarists would start into it. Pretty impressive, overall. Check 'em out if you haven't already.

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 Re: The Flaming Lips in Seattle
Author: Michael Toland 
Date:   05-17-17 16:02

Last year was the year I purged myself of most of the 'aughts indie/alternative rock stars (My Morning Jacket, the Hold Steady, etc.), because I never listened to them beyond their initial acquisitions. I didn't get rid of my Lips records, but I completely ignored Oczy Mlody. Hell, I didn't know it even existed until a couple of weeks after it had been out. And I'm one of the very few (the only one?) who actually liked The Terror.

That said, the one time I saw the Lips (at the ACL Festival) they were one of the absolute highlights that year. Always a good time live. And your report makes me think I should go back and listen to Oczy Mlody. I think I was just burned out on them for a while. I ignored all the side projects (the "Heady Fwends" records, the covers of whole albums), but it seemed like they were always in the music news doing some fool thing. I kinda got tired of it all. But it's easy to take a band like them for granted and have them turn around and do something brilliant while you're not looking, so I should check out Oczy Mlody when I get a chance.

Tonight: the Thurston Moore Band. New record Rock n Roll Consciousness is excellent. I've never seen Moore solo before, so I'm excited.

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 Re: The Flaming Lips in Seattle
Author: Philippe 
Date:   05-18-17 10:42

Never seen the Lips in concert, but I would love to see a show like the one you attended.

The Terror didn't do much for me, but both Oczy Mlody and the extract from the 24-hour song (7 Skies H3) are very listenable.

Bizarrely, that last album is not mentioned in the band's discography on either their English-language of French-language wikipedia page. I'm sure it was not one of those extremely-limited jelly skull-type releases, since I bought my copy at one of the few remaining brick and mortar mainstream music stores. If one didn't know it was pulled together from parts of a novelty songwriting project, you'd think it was a thought-out, cohesive album.

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 Re: The Flaming Lips in Seattle
Author: Heff 
Date:   05-18-17 13:00

I saw them back in March and you are right, it was the visual spectacle. Starting off with a number that normally would end a show was pretty ballsy. I have most of their albums up to and including The Soft Bulletin and I wished they would've played something pre-Bulletin (they didn't play "Jelly"). While I appreciated the spectacle, it did slow things down considerably, some of it could've been tossed. I did like The W.A.N.D. immensely.

I had previously seen them on the Brain Degeneration Revue (aka the headphones tour) back in the `90s. Even then Coyne was concerned making sure the crowd was enjoying themselves, not as elaborate stage show, however.

I wish we got your opening band. We got clipping. - described as avant-garde rap. To me it sounded like Cabaret Voltaire fronted by a rapper. I did get a kick out of the hipsters trying to catch the beat in between all the noise so they could bob their heads.

Post Edited (05-18-17 13:06)

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 Re: The Flaming Lips in Seattle
Author: breno 
Date:   05-18-17 13:57

I saw them six or seven times from the mid-90s (I think the side stage at Lollapalooza 94 was the first time I saw them) through the mid-00s, until it got to be too much of a hassle to get a ticket. It seemed like they really started getting visual on The Soft Bulletin tour, when they were still playing smallish clubs - mostly just video screens and the like. Word of mouth for those shows got them booked at larger venues, where the spectacle grew to match, and the hamster ball and the legions of volunteers dressed as furries joined the proceedings.

I guess the last time I saw them was for At War With the Mystics, with Sonic Youth opening in support of Rather Ripped. The next time they came through town, tickets sold out in about 10 minutes, which has been the norm ever since, leading me to not even consider going when I see the announcement they'll be in town. Too much trouble to try to get a ticket anymore.

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