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Live: The Flaming Lips

Oct. 2nd at Fox Theater

Wayne Coyne nonchalantly took the stage to greet the audience at Oakland’s Fox Theater; his at-ease demeanor makes one feel as if you just showed-up to his house for a dinner party.

He graciously welcomed the audience and made a quick warning about the vast amount of strobe lights/flashing lights that will be used in the performance and asks everyone to take care of each other. Next, he asked the audience to get their laser pens ready (they were distributed upon entrance), then exuberantly hailed “because it’s going to be the biggest freak-out of the year!”

An apropo description from the Flaming Lip’s cosmic front man, the show opened with the image of an orange naked woman with her legs spread open projected on a huge light screen. A door opened, and one by one the band members entered through the woman’s vagina (I’m venturing to guess that it was a rebirth of sorts for any first-time Lip’s show-goer).

Devout fans relived some of the band’s most infamous antics. Wayne Coyne gleefully cascaded over the audience in a bubble as the band dove into a couple of numbers from Embyronic, their latest installment of dreamy tripped-out incantations. Coyne climbed onto the shoulders of person in a bear costume during “Convinced of the Hex.”

A vast array of big colorful balloons and confetti shot out from the stage, groups of exhilarated individuals dressed in head-to-toe orange wearing some kind of fuzzy pointed hat danced on each side of the stage, a giant catfish soon joined them. A few thousand laser pens frenetically shimmered across the stage and over the crowd. The freak-out was in full effect.

The Oklahoma comrades didn’t retreat very far back into their expansive music catalog, which spans more than twenty years. They played material solely from the last decade or so (The Soft Bulletin, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, At War with Mystics, and mostly from Embryonic) with a bit of a live twist.

“Ego Tripping” was played acoustically, followed by an enchanting “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” sing-along. Bellowing smoke and bright white strobe lights became the backdrop for a long melodious version of “The Sparrow Looks Up at the Machine.” They closed with another sing-along, a warm heart-felt “Do you realize.”

There are live concerts, and then there are the Flaming Lips. They put on a true show (somewhat of a rarity these days), an all-out spectacle in the vein of Pink Floyd. Ironically, they didn’t play anything from their version of Dark Side of the Moon. It’s the kind of show that makes one want to quit their mundane job and stay locked in the Lips’ party capsule of oozing magnetic space-rock bliss forever.

Check out the SF Station photo gallery from this show: