Tonite, I had the EXTREME pleasure in seeing what will be considered one of my favorite concerts I have EVER been to. For weeks prior to the show, I had been listening to Various songs in Sonic Youth's library. The whole time I had been getting hyped!!! I could be seen SCREAMING along with Thurston Moore while driving on the freeway heading to and from work, on jogs, and just about any time I had access to their music. I imagined a dozen different playlists they would use, all of which containing my favorites old and new. (Radical Adults Lick Godhead Style/Candle/Sunday/Dirty Boots/Disappearer/Stones the list goes on)
But alas, none of these from my fantasy set list were to reach my ears this night.
Don't get me wrong though, they had a pretty good set, just relaxed and cool. I got into more songs than not, especially the super-popular radio-friendly Incinerate, my favorite new song Pink Steam, and the very pretty Turquoise boy. They sounded good, and Kim Gordon's vocals were even on point. But, They seemed affected by the bad weather (impending storm/tornado), and they just didn't seem to have any real energy for the people who braved the elements just to see them. I'm really NOT bitter, just a little let down.
That's when I took notice of just how many balloon creatures this guy to our right was making. He made a Dragonfly, a Spider, a Butterfly (worn like a backpack), a Stick Man holding a pair of Red Lips, and a Giant Pink Robot. All these balloons were as big as I am. Completely Awesome. He would make them, and give them to other people in the audience to walk around with.
Soon after, the rain totally let up, and it was time for the Flaming Lips to take stage. When they did, we saw Wayne Coyner stand in front of a mic which was outfitted with a camera for closeups, and his image was projected onto a huge screen which would show footage from japanese game shows, topless karate go-go dancers, snippets from their videos, outer space, and finally teletubbies. The concert started and Wayne climbed into a bubble inflated to twice his size, and rolled into
the audience that supported he and the bubble he was in while Race For The Prize played. People went nuts. Confetti streamers, bubbles, and big balloons were shot toward the audience, and I swear this is the truth, my lovely wife and best friend and I were at least 100 yards away and got hit with all this. By this time, the crowd was so amped! They had volunteer backup Santa and Alien dancers, Captain America was the stage hand, and one of homeboy's balloons made it to the stage.
After doing a couple of newer songs, they did Yoshimi, and Do you Realize, which were spot on, and further enhanced by all the theatrics. The audience felt a wide range of emotions- political frustration (Yeah Yeah Yeah Song), positivity (W.A.N.D.)
friendship, love, and hope (My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion) We even got to travel through space when Vein of stars played.
Throughout the show the Lips thanked us graciously, not just a "We love you" with Columbus pasted on the end, but a sincere thanks for listening, support, and willingness to try something different. They also Felt what they were singing, and prompted us to exhibit the same passion when singing the lyrics projected on the screen. It's rare that a band makes me and the rest of the audience for that matter, feel so included in what they were doing onstage. It was like he was speaking to each individual in the audience when pleading for us to think about what we were singing about. (The HUGE closeup of his face also helped)
The even crazier thing, is I felt a little more positive and considerate when I left the concert. Thanks to Wayne thanking us for not being too hip and cool to smile with them, and others in the crowd, I left feeling like I was a little cooler.
Man, they were super-tight, and I felt great when I left. I WILL be seeing them again, and hopefully so will you.