When I heard the Flaming Lips were coming to the Los Angeles area, I was excited to see them again, this time outside of the festivals that they've been playing in the last few years. I wasn't sure exactly what to expect of the two special events at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. What I knew though, was that the band would be preforming "The Soft Bulletin" & "Dark Side of the Moon" on June 14th & 15th respectively; allowing the full albums to be presented as their unified concepts.
Upon arriving at the cemetery for the June 14th show (insert witty double-entente about FaceBook checking in at a cemetery) - an obligatory stop was made at the memorial of Johnny Ramone - just adjacent to the Fairbanks Lawn, where the half-dome stage stood at the far end the lawn, scattered with a few thousand people on blankets. Making our way down to the stage we passed multiple art installations; ala a tree raining light, the giant mirrored spinning orbs - beautiful, with a very Alice in Wonderland/Wizard of Oz vibe.
The show was less of a standard concert, and more felt like a do-it-yourself kind of event; unusual for a larger band. Before the show/during set change to their gear, lead singer Wayne Coyne was very personable, chatting with the audience. You get this overwhelming sense that he's just a really good guy.
As the set started ramping-up with the band's swirling wall-of-noise intro, Wayne climbed inside the giant bouncy hamster-ball until the apex, when the crew spun him down the ramp & out onto the raised hands of the audience - and the set began.....
In parallel, launching into "Race for the Prize" they continued track by track in-album-order, and the confetti rained down down - bright as day, with the neo-psychedelic rock tunes and an overall and warm-hearted vibe. A few songs in, Wayne shared the first of a few stories with the audience. This one, about "The Spiderbite Song;" taken from a very near-miss that band-mate Steven Drozd had when he got a poisonous spider bite and nearly had to have his hand amputated. The story was anecdotal for making the most of everything & appreciating even the small things like having hands.
The tunes all flowed really good, but the experience was amplified by an amazing LED wall-of-light: sometimes just colored light and sometimes projecting visual clips of the band playing live. The imagery was of such discordant random themes as giant eyeballs, naked woman silhouettes, and the obligatory teletubbues. Random, but awesome.
The next tune to really stand out was "Waitin' for a Superman." This was an emotional trip that they took the audience on; nearly having everyone in tears before the song ended. It was written about Wayne's father's battle with & succumbing to cancer, however it applied in a much broader sense for him, in retrospect. In part of the story, Wayne commented on mortality and his good friend Elliott Smith's chronic depression, which ended up bringing about his death. It also served as reassurance for those who are down to hold on the best they can - that things do get better. Beyond akin to a counseling appointment at this point, the song was even better/more emotionally packed, knowing the back-story.
Finishing off the set (and the album "The Soft Bulletin"), the band turned to the encore which consisted of a three additional hits "She Don't Use Jelly," "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song," "Do You Realize," of which, all the audience went wild to...
Race for the Prize
A Spoonful Weighs a Ton
The Spark That Bled
The Spiderbite Song
What Is the Light?
Waitin' for Superman
Suddenly Everything Has Changed
Feeling Yourself Disintegrate
Sleeping on the Roof
She Don't Use Jelly
The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song
Do You Realize??
Clovis IV: Photos & Review