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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

The Flaming Lips At The Greek Theatre: Review

Lilian Min |
October 30, 2013 | 1:13 p.m. PDT

Music Editor

Things got weird at the Greek. (Lilian Min/Neon Tommy)
Things got weird at the Greek. (Lilian Min/Neon Tommy)
"This is the coldest it's ever been while we're in Los Angeles... it must be the end of the world!"

So announced Wayne Coyne as he, dressed in a white dress and a long blonde wig, fake blood plastered onto his body, surveyed the crowd from his perch atop a miniature mountain of metal globes and spasmodically flashing coils of light. But that was later in the night, so let's rewind.

On Tuesday night, The Flaming Lips and Tame Impala, along with Texan band White Denim, played a series of psychedelic sets within the woodsy backdrop of the Greek Theatre.

The night was mysteriously titled "Blood Bath," and concertgoers responded to the spooky theme by donning colorful and strange costumes; dinosaur onesies seemed to be the most popular outfit of the night.

ALSO READ: White Denim: 'Corsicana Lemonade' Album Review

Unfortunately, this writer missed White Denim's opening act, but slipped into the show just in time to catch Kevin Parker and his live band laying down the opening lines of their hour plus set.

Tame Impala's profile has exploded in the two years between the release of first full length album "Innerspeaker" and second album "Lonerism." The band's psychedelia-drenched tunes have struck a nerve within the indie music community. Though the night's event was ostensibly headlined by the Flaming Lips, many of the people who attended the show were vocal about the fact that they were attending for Tame Impala.

Their adoration was understandable - against a background of what seemed to be stock screensavers blending and bending through different Photoshop filters, yet which were perfectly timed to the music, Parker and his backing band took their recorded material and essentially resuscitated the songs for an open, live space.

ALSO READ: Tame Impala Rocks The Fox Theatre With Psychedelic Grooves

Throughout the opening half of the set, the band's background visuals kept blacking out or warping, which actually distracted from the music because of how tightly timed the two were. But the screen sorted itself in time for the closing tunes of Tame Impala's set: EP tune "Half Full Glass of Wine," "Elephant," Be Above It," "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards," and "Apocalypse Dreams." 

The long instrumental interludes that the band took throughout these tunes, especially in "Half Full Glass of Wine," "Be Above It," and "Apocalypse Dreams," amped up the band's psychedelic undertones to 11, and the distorted waves of sound flowed into and over the Greek. It was as though Parker had put the crowd through a mass hypnosis; when the house lights went up, indicating intermission, the audience seemed startled, as though we'd all been shaken awake from a dream.

As for the main act themselves? Originally, the Flaming Lips were set to take the stage by themselves first, and then invite the rest of the acts on with them for the titular "Blood Bath" event. But for whatever reason, the schedule was switched around. As such, the audience's first impression of the famously interactive live band was thus:

Taking the stage to a cover/remix of the "Halloween" theme song, the band members, all outfitted in "Halloween" Michael Myers masks, arranged themselves around an elevated microphone/mountain of metal balls and rope lights. Coyne himself was "hidden" beneath a ballooning white sheet, and then took it off to reveal his communion-ready getup.

And then the madness again. As the music grew louder and more ominous, a woman dressed as Miley Cyrus at the VMAs, perched atop someone wearing a bear costume, joined Coyne at the microphone/mountain, and, while red confetti cannons boomed and large red balloons bounced into the crowd, poured (presumably) fake blood all over him. Later on during the set, Coyne would take turns wielding what appeared to be a sparkler stuffed into a trumpet and a handheld spotlight that he turned on the crowd. #meta

It was a fantastic spectacle, not least because the opening moments of music were as distorted and demented as what was happening on stage. But once the madness died down, the Flaming Lips showed the depth of their decades-plus catalog and experience as performers.

While it would've been understandable for the band to play nothing but tunes from recent album "The Terror" given the night's theme, or even all of the cuts off of "Peace Sword," the EP they recorded for the upcoming film adaptation of "Ender's Game," they touched on plenty of iconic tunes throughout the night.

Though Coyne openly admitted that perhaps dousing himself in liquid during a cool night probably wasn't the best idea, he remained in his Carrie getup for the rest of the show and bantered with the crowd. Before launching into the touching "Race for the Prize," he joked, "Let me know if this gets too sad, okay?"

"Race" wasn't the only "Soft Bulletin" song that the Flaming Lips brought back. "A Spoonful Weighs A Ton" sounded absolutely bewitching in the post-Blood Bath hush of the Greek. Off of "The Terror," this writer caught "Try to Explain," a delicately haunting "Butterfly, How Long It Takes To Die," and "Turning Violent," which was at turns ominous and invigorating.

But of course, the Flaming Lips saved their most recognized tune for last: against a lingering backdrop of the word "LOVE," Coyne and co. launched into a surprisingly toned down rendition of "Do You Realize." Sure, the song isn't exactly a stadium anthem, but the band's muted take on the "Yoshimi"-era tune seemed out of place with the rest of the night's bombast, and as the house lights went up for the night, many members of the audience seemed confused that the show was actually, really over.

Perhaps the Blood Bath took a lot out of Coyne, or perhaps the sets really were running too late. There didn't appear to have been a group jam on stage, which a lot of people seemed to be expecting. But the Flaming Lips haven't endured this long without knowing how to put on a real show - it sure was enough to smile about when I woke up this morning and shook confetti out of my hair.

Read more of NT's show reviews here.

Reach Music Editor Lilian Min here; follow her on Twitter here and on Google+ here.



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