Published by Joe Stadele on 07/18/2014.
Hosting the 2014 MLB All Star game, just blocks away, The Flaming Lips capped off a huge night for Minneapolis. Returning to First Avenue for the first time since 2000, the Flaming Lips was a hot ticket. Tickets had sold out within moments of initial release and with a handful of tickets released at the door, FA was beyond capacity. Excited fans festively arrived in baseball apparel, costumes, capes and ready to see their heroes on (possibly) the most intimate stage The Flaming Lips will grace on their Summer 2014 tour.
Layers of LED lights draped over the stage like curtains of spaghetti. The Lips typical stage grandeur was downsized to accommodate the fairly limited stage space of First Ave. While lead singer/guitarist Wayne Coyne had planned to begin the show in the center of the audience hoisted upon a hydraulic platform connected to a megaphone, Coyne decided against it due to microphone issues, the tightly packed crowd and an already delayed show (only by 15 minutes). The band took the stage in various wigs, capes, with two women filled out each side of a rainbow; backed by 7-8 foot LED panel. Coyne greeted the eager crowd wearing just a snug “muscle” leotard with strategically placed lametta (tinsel). To his left stood musical madman magician Steven Drozd dressed appropriately in a cape and LED flashlight headband to work his wizardry on keys; adding layers of sound and drones, offering vocals and even playing guitar.
An unsuspecting virtual friend dropped in for the opening trio of songs. One of the ladies in the rainbow costume tapped Coyne on the shoulder, pointed at her phone and shouted, “Miley, is watching!” While it was not initially apparent (and plausibly a joke), Miley Cyrus was visibly smiling and moving around on the iPhone screen. Coyne gave a brief nod and smile [see photos] but was purely focused on the night’s show. (For those who don’t know the connection, The Flaming Lips released a video last week staring Cyrus and Moby; both contributing to the Lips upcoming Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band cover album.)
The band mixed the old with newest tracks off The Terror. “The Abanonded Hospital Ship” opener was the calm before the proverbial storm. With the intro of “She Don’t Use Jelly,” fans looked to the roof with their hands in the air and smiles from ear-to-ear as confetti cannons blanketed the audience in euphoria. Coyne emerged as a metallic man-bird with huge lametta wings during anthem “Yoshimi Versus The Pink Robots.” A surprise performance of the Chemical Brother-collaboration “The Golden Path” was a welcomed addition. Fans were delighted during an extended “Race For The Prize” as the Coyne’s signature hamster ball made (a now rare) return. And in a morbidly comic turn, Wayne once again took the stage, adorned in a futuristic blue suit and cradling a creepy old baby doll. He rocked and played with the doll through a set of songs off The Terror.
Ending the main set on a high note, Wayne took a moment to share his appreciation. “We, the Flaming Lips, get to play to the fucking coolest fucking audience that there will ever be…that is the fucking truth. That is the fucking truth! Now, every fucking band in the world will say that, but it will not be true. It’s only true with The Flaming Lips’ audience because the Flaming Lips audience fucking spreads their love, their energy, and they care about the people around them, about the whole experience…and they smile, and they laugh, and they make everybody around them feel like they are worth something. To me that’s so fucking awesome. That’s the truth! So we are very lucky to be able to stand here and sing our songs, from new songs to old songs.” With that, the main set concluded with an ultimate message of love during a gorgeous “A Spoonful Weighs A Ton.”
Say what you will about the Flaming Lips (cough City Pages); First Avenue will be hard pressed to host a better act in 2014. Coyne reminisced playing the adjoining 7th Street Entry in their early years. While they haven’t played First Avenue in 14 years, Coyne was left impressed as he made a promise that The Lips will make a point to play the venue in the years to come.
The Abandoned Hospital Ship
She Don’t Use Jelly
Yoshimi Versus the Pink Robots
In The Morning of the Magicians
The Golden Path
Feeling Yourself Disentegrate
Race For The Prize
Vein Of Stars
Look…the Sun is Rising
Try To Explain
A Spoonful Weighs a Ton
Do You Realize?
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (Beatles Cover)