Photography and review by Joe Stadele for The Way That He Sings. Published on 02/27/2015.
For the fans and freaks in love with The Flaming Lips, Minneapolis has been the place to the past 12 months. It all began with a one-off intimate performance at the legendary First Avenue in July of 2014. The show was everything one could have expected of a Flaming Lips performance; hits, confetti, celebration, with solid dose of warped darkness. The show just so happened to coincide with the 2014 MLB All-Star Game occurring just down the street, which also meant random celebrities were in attendance, drunks were extra drunk and everyone was ready to let loose. With the addition of a (seemingly) beyond capacity audience, the energy of was so euphoric Lips frontman Wayne Coyne made a promise to play the venue more often in the years to come. Without further adieu, a September date was announced. Lips’ mastermind Steven Drozd and Wayne Coyne surprised concert goers by opening for themselves with the live debut of their side project, Electric Würms. Afterwhich, The Flaming Lips [proper] took stage for a top-to-bottom performance of the 1993’s Transmissions From The Satellite Heart. Once again, Coyne promised yet another special show to be held at First Avenue, but this time the goal was to hold it on the coldest day of the year. For the record, that dates was only missed by less than 48 hours.
“It’s been 19 years, 5 months and 17 days since the Lips released Clouds Taste Metallic.” - Steven Drozd
Tuesday’s night performance of 1995’s Clouds Taste Metallic felt like a grand finale. The stage was aglow with layers upon layers of rope lighting. A massive line curled through First Ave as eager fans patiently waited for their chance to purchase commemorative, hand signed and numbers posters. Cameras were stationed throughout the club to document the evening. With the help of a hype-woman, opening act Def Rain had the crowd dancing to their weirdly mesmerizing, bass and beat heavy performance. By 9:45pm, everyone was settled and ready for the Lips performance; except Mr. Coyne.
“We are just about to start the show,” said Coyne wearing a white puffy coat and mummified in duct tape from neck -to-ankle. “I’ve been back there getting my Clouds Taste Metallic costume fixed on. I’m so humbled and inspired by the Flaming Lips fans. So I am doing the best I can. This is the clouds,” pointing at his big puffy coat, “and underneath is the metallic.” “But I’ve been back there getting completely chrome duct taped into this…thing…and drinking water like you are supposed to, but now I have to [expletive] pee.” The crowd laughed. “So, this is the first time I have ever had to say this before a Flaming Lips show, but I have to go back there and cut my dick out of this [laughs]…I’ve gotta pee and have to tape it back up, so give me just a couple more minutes and then we’ll be on with the show.” Upon his return at the top of the show, Coyne smirked, “Alright, I feel a lot better!” That’s the kind of banter and honesty you might witness.
“This is the first really intense filming bit of what we think, and what we intend to be, a bigger feature length documentary about Clouds Taste Metallic,” said Coyne. “We’ve done a little bit of interviews today. We want to continue to do those, if we can do some, after the show. Anybody that feels like they want to tell some crazy story, if we have time, we’ll get to everybody.” With idea of filming in mind, Coyne went on to say, “If we do one of these songs and it feel as though we didn’t do it justice…we may just do it again….this whole night is going to be part of this documentary and your faces and your enthusiasm and your love and all that are so much about The Flaming Lips world, The Flaming Lips shows…we love you so much!”
The Lips live show is endless entertainment; and they didn’t even break out the costumed dancers, laser hands, video screens or mic-camera. Coyne took a sip of his Red Bull as Steven Drozd led the band with the first few keys of “The Abandoned Hospital Ship.” As the crowd sang along to the song, the band joined in halfway through and the hi-jinks commenced. Confetti cannons sprayed the over the audience. Coyne periodically threw metallic confetti over the audience. At the beginning of “Psychiatric Explorations of the Fetus with Needles,” Coyne held up a large stack of balloon letters before the crowd that read, “FUCK YEAH 1ST AVE.” Waving the balloons in front of the audience, Coyne threw the letters in to the audience. Always a showman, Coyne enlisted the use of a chest-mounted strobe box, a megaphone spotlight, spinning lights and more through the remainder of the Clouds; rarely missing a beat.
“So, what’s the next song on the album?” - Steven Drozd
Just as the Transmissions performance last September, Coyne made a point to express his appreciation of former guitarist, Ronald Jones. While Jones no longer has any part with the band, Coyne has made a point to express his gratitude for his intricate arrangements and left-field contributions. Live, Coyne said he just hoped to do his work justice. The notion of Jones was echoed during “Placebo Wound” and “Lightning Strikes The Postman”. The Lips surely did all of the songs justice and only re-did a couple songs throughout the night, including “Hey There Giraffe” and “Christmas at The Zoo”
The sense of accomplishment was visible among the band members as they neared the end of the main set. Prior to the set closing “Bad Days,” Coyne took a moment to thank and introduce each member for their contributions. Bassist Michael Ivins, standing inconspicuously in the background, even broke into a rare smile (and even clapped). But it was Steven Drozd, who joined the band in 1991 and arguably their musical genius, that showed the most emotion as he teared up in appreciation and shared a moment of laughter with Coyne. It was one of those moment, you’ll have to wait for the documentary to see.
While the performance of Clouds was clearly (and expectedly) successful, the show ended on an unfortunate whimper at 12:20am as the band ran up against the clock. The Lips closed the night with the pulsating anthem “Where Is The Light??/The Observer” and Coyne took to his hamster ball on the closing “Vein of Stars.” While the combo of “Yoshimi Versus The Pink Robots,” “Do You Realize??” and “A Spoonful Weighs A Ton” would have brought the house down, I think it’s safe to say Minneapolis has received their fair share of Flaming Lips attention….for the time being. Thanks for the trilogy.
The rest, well, judge for yourself when the Clouds Taste Metallic documentary finds its eventual release date.
“Of all the places we’ve played in the world, [First Avenue] is one of the last standing places where you could be standing next to Iggy Pop and he says to you, ‘Yeah, I played here in 1975.’ - Wayne Coyne on music venue, First Avenue in Minneapolis, MN
The Abandoned Hospital Ship
Psychiatric Explorations of the Fetus with Needles
Hey There Giraffe
Guy Who Got A Headache and Accidentally Saves The World
When You Smile
Kim’s Watermelon Gun
They Punctured My Yolk
Lightning Strikes The Postman
Christmas At The Zoo
Evil Will Prevail
What Is The Light?
Vein of Stars
Cut for time
Yoshimi Vs. The Pink Robots
Do You Realize??
A Spoonful Weighs A Ton