The Flaming Lips @ Malkin Bowl -- 09/26/10

Sometimes you see things. And in your head you build and you build, and it becomes something much more than it was. For me, this was the first time I saw The Flaming Lips back in 2007. It was one of the greatest live experiences I had ever, er, experienced. The minute I found out they were coming back, I knew I had to go; that nothing was going to stop me. But I was kind of worried that I had hyped it up in my head so much that nothing could compare, or that I would see it and it wouldn't live up to this standard I had placed in my head. Well, skip to the end: it lived up to it. And then some.
Before I go on, though, I have to ask what the hell happened to Malkin Bowl??? It used to be a large patch of pretty nice grass, but that night it was pretty much a big mud pit.

First up was Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti. I got there just in time to hear them starting, and I was glad I made it to catch them. With a weird psychedelic sound that was part of Montreal, part classic rock, part acid trip, they rocked through a set of a little over 45 minutes. Near the end, they were joined by the Flaming Lips drummer, for a few songs of dual drum kits going.Though there was not much, if any, crowd interaction, just song leading into song, and the odd comment or song title between the two. It was definitely an interesting set, and I would be interested to see them live again.

As they came to an end, the crew quickly worked to set up one of the most elaborate stages I've seen. But before the band even hit the stage, Wayne Coyne came out with a quick disclaimer, warning of the intense flashing light and telling us they took a chance setting up at the front of the stage, but it was set up so that if it did start to rain, they could quickly move everything back with little delay. Luckily, the rain held off for the show, so there was no need.
A few minutes later, it was time for The Flaming Lips. The show itself started with a woman on the big screen and the members being, er, birthed, coming out of a door in the screen. Wayne then stepped into his Space Bubble and ran/crawled through the crowd, before coming back to kick off the show with "Worm Mountain", with the confetti guns blasting and giant balloons being strewn throughout the crowd. There were also the usual dancers on both sides of the stage as well as other hijinks throughout the set, but good theatrics does not a great show make. Musically, they are unparalleled; you can tell they have been around for years and still absolutely love what they're doing. The focus was on the new album, with a usual assortment of their bigger hits, and every song was fantastic. From the absolute intensity of "Evil" to the fun singing along of "She Don't Use Jelly" everything sounded just perfect in the beautiful venue. There was crowd participation with "I Can Be A Frog", with everyone acting out the animal/thing mentioned in the chorus, followed by "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots" which had damn near every single person in the packed bowl singing along.
Other shenanigans included someone in a bear suit running out during "Silver Trembling Hands" and Coyne got on its shoulders to sing; Coyne putting on the giant hands -- which shot lasers out of the palms into the giant disco balls, and also into the crowd; and for "Sagittarius Silver Announcement" all the lights being turned off for the song to be performed in complete darkness.
After they "ended" the set, the came back for just one more: "Do You Realize??" which, again, saw the entire park singing along, as well as more massive blasts of confetti. It's hard to describe in text, but it was an incredibly uplifting experience that I doubt will ever be matched by another band.
They ended promptly at 10, which was the curfew for the park, but people were still clamouring for more, to the point where Wayne had to come out and tell the remaining people, on his bullhorn, that they were not able to do any more, due to the curfew, apologizing and thanking everyone profusely for coming. It was a nice touch, to show that he wasn't ignoring the cheers, but literally was not able to play more.

There was a few songs that I wish they had played... "Race for the Prize" and "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" being two examples, but they were more than enough amazing moments in the show to "make up" for it. It's hard to put into words the feeling that you get after seeing The Flaming Lips play live... you feel happy and uplifted and like you can take on the world. Very few other bands have had even close to the effect that The Flaming Lips have on me, and I will go to my death bed insisting that everyone see them at least once live. Fan of them or not, there is no other live show like it.