The Flaming Lips
Barton Hall – Cornell University
Ithaca, New York Apr. 18, 2010
Contributing Writer : Garret K. Woodward [ TheRFW.com/blog/Garret ]
Contributing Photographer : Andrew “Dirty Santa” Wyatt [ TheRFW.com/blog/DirtySanta ]
Special thanks to leesmommyishot for the YouTube video!
Giant hands shooting out laser beams. Jacuzzi sized disco ball. Teardrops. Laughter.
Everyone’s first live experience of The Flaming Lips can be visually different. Yet, each performance conjures the same exact emotion and conclusion- happiness and the possibility of attaining self-realization (even when you weren’t seeking it at the time).
Strolling the hilly landscape of the picturesque Cornell University campus, Ivy League silence and etiquette was shattered by the joyous shouts of a costume brigade bumrushing Barton Hall- a venue sacred in Grateful Dead lore for the legendary May 8, 1977 show.
Dressed as bacon, Pippy Longstocking, or one’s favorite superhero, troves of Flaming freaks milled about in an effort to get as close to the stage (and lead singer Wayne Coyne) as possible.
Immediately handed a laser pointer upon entrance (the giver ran by with a psychotic grin, tossing the tiny electronic devices at whoever got in his way), I took refuge in the upper level seats towards the back of the gymnasium (now used by the institutions ROTC program). I wanted to encompass the entire scene from above.
The houselights dimmed. An indescribable array of strobe lights, unidentified blinking objects, and red dots (that maniac sure got around) overtook the stage. But, just as my eyes were adjusting to the initial shock, the backdrop illuminated with a naked women dancing. The screen starlet shook what her mama gave her, eventually lying back as a huge beam of light emerged from her digital vagina.
One by one, members of the psychedelic rock entity emerged from the enormous genital tractor-beam. Piercing screams and murderous shouts deafened the arena when Coyne rolled out of the vagina and into the crowd within his trademark “human gerbil ball”. Tumbling around the audience like being tossing into a washing machine, Coyne toppled and fell- a smile never leaving his face.
“We don’t want to say we’re going to top the ’77 show tonight,” Coyne said, leaping out of the plastic ball. “But, for damn sure we will be the second best show to ever play here.”
CONTINUED AFTER THE JUMP/PHOTOS
Coyne takes you down his own version of the hypnotic river in Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. He zigzags across the stage, jumping up and down, encouraging everyone to participate and immerse oneself in the moment- a dizzying sight that would even tire the relentless antics of Mick Jagger.
The group sprinkles a magical stardust of new (“Silver Trembling Hands”), old (“She Don’t Use Jelly”), and somewhere in-between (“The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song”) throughout the production.
Signature confetti guns exploded into the rafters. Giant rubber hands (worn by Coyne) shot green lasers into the disco ball- glittering chaos around the entire space. Footage of gyrating women streams behind the quintet. Old film from television appearances, and clips from the band’s music videos, introduces each subsequent melody.
The entire room became silent (and fingers held up in the “peace sign’) during “Taps” (a traditional military instrumental), where Coyne condemned conflicts abroad and hoped for a bright future amid mankind.
A campfire sing-along soon surfaced. Giving a taste of their recent endeavors (“Brain Damage”/”Eclipse”), the band spewed a beautiful interpretation of Pink Floyd- an ode to those who light the fuse Coyne now keeps bright.
Tearing up, the singer spoke of personal loss and the beauty of those whom you come across along the journey of life. A poignant ending, “Do You Realize??” encouraged the release of any tension or remaining energy from both sides of the stage barrier- a never-ending showcase of innocence and emotion until any and all were completely drained, yet fulfilled spiritually.
And that, my friends, is the true essence of The Flaming Lips.
FLAMING LIPS – BARTON HALL – Apr. 18, 2010
The Fear, Worm Mt., Silver Trembling Hands, The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song, In The Morning Of The Magicians, Vein Of Stars, I Can Be a Frog, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, See The Leaves, Powerless, Pompeii Am Götterdämmerung, Taps, She Don’t Use Jelly, Convinced Of The Hex
Brain Damage, Eclipse
Do You Realize??