Concert Review: Flaming Lips at Firefly Music Festival in Dover
We have come to the end of a fantastic weekend at the Firefly Music Festival. Its been a busy day of musical acts ranging from the Cold War Kids and AWOLNation to Fitz and the Tantrums and The Head and the Heart, and its safe to say that nothing quite prepared the audience for what was about to overtake the Lawn Stage at 8 pm. The Flaming Lips have made a name for themselves with their characteristic brand of psychedelic rock, and after witnessing the spectacle of their live show, I’d say they wouldn’t be half the band they are today without their touring persona.
Before the Flaming Lips even set foot on the stage, I noticed the size of the crowd. It was bursting at the seams, as apparently the Flaming Lips performance is the worst kept secret in the music industry. I felt truly sorry for Girl Talk, playing on the opposite end of the park. There were probably so few people there that you may have been able to hear crickets chirping. Secondly, I noticed the stage setup. A giant disco ball spun like its 1975, and there were thirty college-aged girls, dressed like seductive Swiss Misses, flanking each side of the stage. They didn’t really seem to serve any discernible purpose beyond band cheerleaders, but really, why wouldn’t you want to have a bunch of hot, young tail filling out the stage? There were confetti guns and all sorts of random mischief just waiting to pop out of the box.
Before the band took the stage, machines began to billow smoke at full blast. Frontman Wayne Coyne came out a few minutes early to shoot off a couple of confetti guns, giving the waiting crowd just the tip to jack up the anticipation. Once they finally did make their grand entrance, it wasn’t long before the music and the festivities began. There were two machines on each side of the stage blasting confetti out into the crowd. The scraps of colored tissue were everywhere, raining down on the giddy masses, and just as it started to settle, another blast of confetti was dumped. It was so excessive, that I think they’ll be finding some floating around in Jersey tomorrow. In the brief moments that the confetti cannons were idle, massive balloons also filled with confetti made their way from the stage to bounce along the happy hands of the crowd, and Coyne used his guitar as a spear to skewer the balloons as they tried to escape from the side stage.
If that weren’t enough, after three songs Coyne decided it was time to do his crowd walk. He encapsulated himself in a man-sized bubble and took to the audience. It was a very interesting thing to watch unfold, as I wondered how he would manage to get back to the stage. One of these days a friendly prankster might just try to take him home.
Wayne Coyne and his mates are perhaps the most crazy and eccentric people I have ever seen. They are master showmen that understand that their audience is paying for entertainment. They would love for you to dig their music, but the tunes are seemingly secondary to the show. It isn’t hyperbole to say that the audience devoured the performance. The first half dozen songs had the Firefly faithful riveted, as this was can’t-miss concert action. But as the stunts and the littering largely subsided, the crowd performed a mass exodus to grab one last drink and a comfortable spot for The Black Keys performance at the main stage. Granted, Coyne did bring out the big hands beaming a rainbow of light from the palms, but the band was firmly in experimental rock mode by this time. The audience got what they came to see, leaving the diehard Lips fans and the stoners to sort through the wreckage of meandering guitar solos and epic mystic jams without end. To be fair, this show probably would make a lot more sense after a joint (or two).
Coyne recognized this as well, and even did a tongue-in-cheek PSA about the dangers of smoking marijuana right after he suggested it was prime time to light up for those who were holding.
The Flaming Lips put on a hell of a show. They clearly view performance as an art, and they left it all on the table tonight. I will be the first to say that their music is not for everyone. If you like experimental rock or mystic jam bands, the Flaming Lips will most assuredly float your boat. For everyone else, this is a must-see show mostly for the band’s performance. They are truly one-of-a-kind. You will never see anything quite like The Flaming Lips live. Q Magazine didn’t rank them among the “Top 50 Bands to See Before You Die” for nothing. If you see them on your upcoming festival calendar, pencil them in first, and build the rest of your weekend around them. You might not stay entranced for the whole hour plus, but you won’t want to hear about how you missed out the spectacle that is The Flaming Lips.
Check back with us tomorrow when we’ll post our festival wrap-up review. We’ll highlight some of the bands we didn’t get to feature as well as give you our thoughts on the festival as a whole.