It was all bouncing life size balloons, streamers, hand-held steam machines and inspiring messages at the Flaming Lips show this past Friday. The show was held at the state fairgrounds just outside of Syracuse, NY (an hour drive from Ithaca). The Flaming Lips had the whole audience singing and dancing along to every song. The Lips are known for their experimental sound, which utilizes various synthesizers and guitar effects played by the troubled genius Stephen Drozd. In fact, they were able to replicate their studio tracks so well on stage that it would have been hard to tell the difference between the show and CD.
The selling point of the show was, however, the message that front man Wayne Coyne and his band members bestowed upon the audience. As the band took the stage, a large screen behind the drums flashed what would become the recurring point of the evening. The screen started by stating that we all know that our lives are no more than a momentary blip on the radar screen. The board went on to flash “but that is why we as people/have to make the most of it!” And the crowd went nuts. The Flaming Lips then launched into their first song, “Race for the Prize” off of The Soft Bulletin. The show really took off with their third song “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.” After the band finished “Yoshimi,” lead singer Wayne Coyne ran behind and grabbed a plastic hand puppet in a nun’s costume and came back and said “come on everybody you have to sing!” He then proceeded to launch into a brilliantly drawn-out a capella version of the chorus from “Yoshimi” with the doll mouthing the words. Coyne also did something similar after “She Don’t Use Jelly” had ended to get the audience involved.
Other high points of the show included songs “She Don’t Use Jelly,” “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song,” “Do You Realize” and encore song “A Spoonful Weighs a Ton.” Wayne Coyne did a lot of talking in between songs, and he came off as both smart and funny. Right before launching into “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song (With All Your Power),” Coyne said, “Some people say that art and music have the power to fight bombs.” He then urged the audience to yell and sing so loud that the evening news would report a terrorist bomb had gone off at the State Fair. Coyne said he wasn’t sure if a large audience had such a power but reasoned that it couldn’t hurt just in case it could fight things like “bombs and bullets and idiots in power.”
Overall the Flaming Lips show was an inspirational success that left the crowd with the message that we are only given a short and temporary life and therefore, we should cherish every moment. It is a philosophy that encourages the party life and the whole show felt like one extravagant celebration. Coyne periodically repeated throughout the show, “come on guys this is your Friday night . . . this is your life.”