There is no denying that a band like the Flaming Lips is a once in a generation type of artist – a statement that encompasses both their vast studio library and their truly iconic live performances. While the 2000’s may have brought around the death of the “rockstar” as it may have been in the golden age of rock , Wayne Coyne has carried and re-ignited the torch of artistic showmanship for a generation now devoid of the icons of Bowie, Mercury & more. The band’s relevance has remained strong over the years as their pioneering traits have allowed them to often be years ahead of what other artists are doing musically. Though their true rise in popularity came later in the 90’s the band’s first entry hit in 1986 making 2018 roughly their 32nd year as performers and like a fine bottle of wine the Flaming Lips have only gotten progressively better with each year passed.
This current tour was a smaller run, still in support of their most recent release ‘Oczy Mlody’ in which the band returned to some of the roots that catapulted them to international acclaim with their albums ‘The Soft Bulletin’ and ‘Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.’ While the album shares some sounds with the earlier discs it remains true to the band’s inventive nature as it contains many original conceptual sounds while not drawing to heavy on the cliche of nostalgia. On the final night of their currently announced run of US dates the Flaming Lips brought what they have called “rock’s greatest acid trip” to the Parx Casino for a packed crowd of fans who were seeking an evening of true merriment.
The spectacle began much like the conclusion of the “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” – it came without bells, without whistles or carols as the band simply walked out on stage and began a candid conversation with the venue that had filled to capacity in the minutes leading up to the early 7PM showtime. Coyne took a moment to thank those at the venue who helped make the day possible and thanked everyone in attendance all the while smiling and laughing about their relaxed entrance to the stage. He then explained it was the crowd’s turn to welcome them but not until he signaled as “Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30” was blasted through the intimate venue. As the song reached it’s booming peak Coyne raised his arms high in the sky and the stage strobed from a purple wash of light to a colorful ocean of all colors on the spectrum and confetti begin to spray in amounts on the Flaming Lips could imagine. The show had truly begun as Coyne led the band through a ramped up, Co2 cannon, giant balloons, confetti blasted performance of “Race for the Prize” and instantly lived up to their reputation of a show like no other in existence.
Though the night was full of marvel and wonderment the Flaming Lips haven’t lasted over three decades on just their flashiness alone – their performance was also technically sound in all possible aspects. With a vast amount of material to craft a setlist from the band managed to touch on all eras with their just under two hour set. Coyne’s vocals haven’t shown any signs of weakness and at 57 his vocal tenacity remains just as intact as it was in his 20’s and his stage presence as a front man remains unwavered as he led the ran around the stage, rode a unicorn, hoisted massive laser shootings hands and more within a quick succession of just a few songs. As expected there were many surprises in the set but one of the biggest was in the content as the band decided to play the impactful and subtle “Waitin’ for a Superman” late in the set much to the surprise and acclaim of the crowd.
Robots were fought and defeated, pounds of confetti were blasted, lasers danced, and all the while LED’s cascaded around the Flaming Lips as they reminded a packed crowd how to be happy. There wasn’t a moment of the evening that wasn’t expertly delivered and strikingly so there wasn’t a moment that passed that the crowd wasn’t in awe of the performance they witnessed. Many fans in attendance were repeat attendees but a strong amount were in the middle of their first time with the Flaming Lips and as the night came to a close they left the Parx Casino a little bit different than they were hours before.
The magic of the Flaming Lips performance that evening was it’s ability to connect with the hearts and minds of everyone in attendance – for 2 hours the outside world didn’t matter in the slightest bit as everyone danced with smiles on their faces. It’s been said many times that music can bring people together but more often than not it doesn’t, the Flaming Lips have captured lighting in a bottle for the duration of their career and their live show further harnesses this infectious energy. There is no other band like the Flaming Lips and there likely never will be – though this tour has come to a close the band will have many more to come as they continue to not only create revolutionary content but share it with a world that needs a smile more than ever before.
Exclusive Gallery of the Flaming Lips 3.11.18 Performance at the Parx Casino in Bensalem, PA