The Flaming Lips

Coachella Music Festival

May 02, 2004

A transparent ball descended from the sky onto the crowd waiting for The Flaming Lips show. Enclosed inside was lead singer/guitarist Wayne Coyne, trying to stay afoot while the ball rolled through the crowd and eventually landed onstage. Coyne emerged from the sphere in an all white suit and said, "That's been a dream of mine for a long time, now." It was only the beginning.

As I found out, a Flaming Lips show is a small extravaganza unto itself. Neon green and orange bouncy balls provided by the band got thrown around amongst the crowd the whole show. People onstage dressed in furry animal costumes and waved spotlights maniacally.* In short, it was a wonderful, joy-inducing circus atmosphere. The music went along well with it, anyway.

The Flaming Lips are the king alternative psychedelic rock band. Symphonic/ noise/acid/bubblegum pop? Why not? Their last two albums have been full of music which is worthy of their live show's splendor. Three of the four songs they played—"Fight Test," "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots," and "Race For the Prize"—came from these albums. Early technical difficulties and a need to not cut into The Cure's upcoming set caused them to play only four songs, but it was the best four song concert I've been to. And because the band didn't have time to play a full fifth song, Coyne got the crowd to sing a three week early happy birthday to Beck's new baby, who was due to be born in as much time from the concert.

Coyne was so good in getting the crowd into the music and sing-alongs. He assumed everyone knew the lyrics to "Yoshimi," which made me feel bad I didn't. Voices filled the air, Coyne poured fake blood all over his face, and all was right with the world for a second.

Wow. Is this the future of rock or only the beginning? Exactly, dude.

*One of these furry creatures was Belle and Sebastian lead singer/guitarist Stuart Murdoch.

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