Reviews > Shows
The Flaming Lips, New York, NY Central Park SummerStage – 7/26
Wayne Coyne doing his thing last April– photo by Greg Homolka
It’s sunset in Central Park and Lips fans are crunched together in the small SummerStage venue. On stage, the band’s gear has the tinge of a burnt orange and there are some curious cannon-like machines on either side. Wayne Coyne briefly emerges to noodle on his acoustic guitar, fully-equipped with a beach-ball resistant dome shielding the soundhole and bridge, before retreating backstage once more.
He returns as the deep, squealing notes of “The Fear” tremble from the amps and cannons spew orange and yellow confetti over the heads of fans. Coyne is not one to settle on an ordinary stage entrance, he rises at the back of the stage in his famous inflatable plastic hamster ball and rolls himself into the crowd. He is greeted with cheers and eager hands reaching to hold him up and roll him every which way.
Upon his return to the stage, the quartet launches into “Worm Mountain” with an aggressive drum beat, gritty baseline and eerie vocals. Coyne then briefly mounts the shoulders of a human black bear before alighting back down to the stage to bounce around an orange balloon the size of a small car. There is no doubt that the leading thrill of The Flaming Lips’ performances is the way that such theatrics complement the group’s absurd lyrics and bold, yet euphonic, melodies.
Coyne’s undying optimism is hard to deny as he obsesses over the brilliant weather. “This is the fucking best night of the summer right here,” he says, adding “it’s like we’re all back in the womb together…” before the band launches into the shrieks and bounce of “Silver Trembling Hands.”
A serious note is turned as Coyne expresses his frustrations with George W. Bush and the longevity of the war in Iraq. “After [this] song we’ll get together again and see if we feel less helpless about our situation,” he adds before ripping into the castigating and playful rock of “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song.”
His political rant continues after “Pompeii Am Gutterdammerung,” as he exclaims, “I don’t say fuck war, I say believe in peace…” He then urges fans to raise their peace fingers to the sky, adding that his hallucinogenic wish was that energy would shoot out of their fingertips in the form of peace.
The evening ends with a “Do You Realize??” encore along with a couple final blasts from the confetti cannon. The tune soars over the crowd as a massive and emotional masterpiece. Coyne leaves the crowd buzzing and craving more of the eccentric ensemble and realizing “Life goes fast, it’s hard to make the good times [or a Lips concert] last.”
In honor of Umphrey’s McGee’s return to Summer Camp this weekend, we present the group’s Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger performing this version of “The Pequod” from UM’s Anchor Drops.
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