Photographs by Neil Van
Boring is never the term that would come to mind after checking out a gig by Oklahoma’s The Flaming Lips.
The psych-rockers brought their new album Oczy Mlody to a surprisingly undersold Rebel last night amidst a chilly and snowy night, only exacerbated by the remote locale of Rebel.
Oczy Mlody is a grower of an album, repeated listens have revealed new delights, but it does sound like a one-person show with it largely being an electronic album which I was curious as to see how they treated during the live experience.
Lips’ gigs are not mere concerts, they are a sensory experience. Sensory overload would be a start in describing these experiences. And last night was no exception.
They opened their over 100-minute set with “Race for the Prize” complete with confetti, a bonkers light show and more balloons than you can imagine, and that’s all the first song.
It would turn out that over the course of the night, the band would only touch on the new album a few times including the exploding drones of “There Should Be Unicorns” featuring, you guessed it, frontman Wayne Coyne singing the tune while riding a unicorn being pushed through the floor of the room.
The band wouldn’t touch their 90’s or earlier output with The Soft Bulletin getting the most tracks aired. They would touch on each of their subsequent albums that followed.
“Pompeii Am Gotterdammerung” was dedicated to hometown heroes Rush and Coyne got the crowd singing at the top of their lungs for a mostly-faithful rendition of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” which found Coyne surfing the entire room in his giant clear ball while the band closed the set out with a sweet psych freak-out.
Now I’ve seen the Lips many, many times and it’s hard to find fault with them. Their festival slots have been pretty same-y, but their own gigs are full out assaults and that was underscored with a ferocious rip through “The W.A.N.D.”, my personal highlight from the night. Sure some of the intros were a bit drawn out and that is the only complaint I can level when faced with such a spectacle that demands the audience participate and have fun.
As the crowd filed out past the two giant mushrooms that were in the middle of the room following the sing-along of “Do You Realize?” they faced the harsh elements with a slightly warmer heart, burnt-out eyeballs and just the giddy realization of what was just witnessed.