Halloween is the perfect time of the year for a Flaming Lips show, there was already no doubt in my mind, before last night, but their show at the Greek Theater just confirmed it. This is their time, their blood-thirsty feast and bloodbath delirium. I have seen them many times, and each time they put up a hell of a show, a feast for all the senses with an orgy of laser, fog, confetti and balloons,… but a lot of bands do that right? With the Lips, a new level in Wayne Coyne’s imaginarium machine is reached each time as they never try to replicate their previous success: the proof? Last night Wayne Coyne didn’t even use his giant hamster plastic ball!
Instead he was perched the whole time at a top of a thing I can’t even describe, surrounded by a small mountain of metal balls and coils of pulsating-flashing rope lights packed into something that reminded me a bit the interconnections of the phantasmagorical ecosystem at the end of the movie ‘Avatar’. All night long, Coyne was singing from this high roost like a mad preacher haranguing the giant crowd who has dressed up for the circumstance (some people had some brilliant costume ideas, my favorite one being a couple as Margot and Richie in The Royal Tenenbaums). But the best of all was Coyne’s own Halloween scary costume, a perfect white-dressed Carrie, drenched with blood from head to toe! He has a thing for fake blood as everyone knows, but this was time for the full bath. ‘I feel like Courtney Love, and we all know this is very scary!’ he joked at one point. ‘We wanted a blood bath [the show was advertised as Halloween Bloodbath] but nobody wants this, so I did it for you’, he added almost proud to have volunteered instead of spraying the entire crowd of blood.
However, it was a really cold night, I was freezing on my seat, and soaked in sticky blood as he was, he must have been chilled to the bones. ‘It’s the coldest night we ever had in LA’, he also said, ‘It really must be the end of the world!’, he added. If their last album, ‘The Terror’ isn’t really their most optimistic ones (it is rather announcing the apocalypse) the tone of the evening was nevertheless their usual biggest-circus-on-earth-meets-a-trip-on-acid kind of thing. I have seen some of the Flaming Lips grand entrances in the past, they have landed from a flying saucer, and Wayne Coyne has arrived in his giant bubble over the crowd, but this time they had decided to set the place on fire with giant red balloons and golden confetti flying over the crowd, while Wayne’s roost was glittering all red like a volcano and red fumes were asphyxiating the crowd over Carpenter’s Halloween Theme. Sure they know how to give to the fans what they expect, and if you think this grandiose opening was already over the top, be aware that, just before this volcanic explosion, Wayne had climbed on his miniature mountain of rope lights, still immaculate with his blonde wig and white dress, when a VMAs’ Miley Cyrus look-alike (mounted on what seemed to be a fury animal) climbed behind his back, and soon gave him the full Carrie treatment with a bucket of blood, plastering him for the rest of the show..
They played many of their lugubrious themes of the ‘Terror’ and I realized I was totally wrong when I said they would never use the festive fireworks and playful mode again with such sadness in the music,… they did it anyway, playing the Terror songs with pulsating lights, flashing lasers and Wayne’s rooster sparkling like a multicolor fountain harmonizing with the music. He visibly had some difficulty climbing up there as he explained mid-show, ‘The shit I am standing on is so slippery from this fucking blood! But I will get through it!’ And he did, but the show did sometimes slow down between the songs, may be because the thing was really slippery, may be because of the cold, may be because they had just came back from a tour in Japan? In any case that wasn’t the best Flaming lips show I have ever seen despite the overwhelming display of imaginative and explosive stage set-up designed to excite all senses. It wasn’t the most epic one either in the sense that they didn’t play long enough, but for this I would blame the stupid Greek theater curfew (at 11 pm whereas the place is inside a non residential area of Griffith park?), I would blame the time it took to install all this ‘shit’ on stage, and I would blame the opener Tame Impala’s long set! But it was certainly one of their most imaginative ones, as well as one of their most adventurous as the Terror songs aren’t truly uplifting…. How could they mix them with their usual ‘Soft Bulletin’s favorites (‘Race for the prize’, ‘A Spoonful Weighs a Ton’) and their all-time anthem ‘Do you Realize?’ So they reinvented the songs, playing them much slower, much sadder, stripped down with some eventual terrifying explosions, still contrasting with Wayne Coyne constantly expressing his enthusiasm to be in Los Angeles for Halloween and cheering up the crowd with some ‘We don’t want you to be sad but we have to sing it sad’… ‘When song is sad, you, motherfuckers, must pull us out of it!’
Fans visibly expected an encore after the last song, so many of them had dressed up with colorful outfits for the occasion, they wanted the show to go on all night long despite a few backless costumes worn by some crazy fearless girls! But the Lips didn’t come back. Los Angeles was their first show on their Halloween Blood Bath tour, and they managed to reinvent themselves with a fantastic visual spectacle, continuing to blow everyone’s mind.
Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – April 1983 (Volume 14, Number 11)
the final issue edited by Susan Whitall
hard rock meets classic rock meets Americana
Chuck D is at the Grammy Museum
On The Red Carpet For The Screening Of “The Beast Inside” At The Angelica Cinema, Sunday, January 29th, 2023: pictures by Billy Hess
a powerhouse performance by Sadie Katz and SohoJohnny as you never thought you’d see him
that SNL gig was excellent
Miley rises to top of the celebrity food chain
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it’s a bit different because it’s smaller