The Flaming Lips | 07.28 | Australia

Words & Images by: Alex Anastas

The Flaming Lips :: 07.28.09 :: Hordern Pavilion :: Sydney, Australia

The Flaming Lips :: 07.28 :: Sydney, Australia
If Willy Wonka had music piping through his personal quarters at the Chocolate Factory, The Flaming Lips would be in heavy rotation. Their contagious zest for life, underlying political consciousness and general wacky Prankster behavior is rare in today's minimalist scene. Often times I wonder if Rip Taylor or Wavy Gravy have ever seen or been a part of a Lips show. If either of those unique characters were present, Wayne Coyne's hard-working crew would certainly have to bring even more confetti and balloons, if that's actually possible.

Kicking off their show at Sydney's Hordern Pavilion with an enthusiastic synthesizer laden groove, Melbourne standouts Midnight Juggernauts laid down a backbeat reminiscent of Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie. Featuring voice box effects, heavy metal vamp endings and a Floydian flair for dramatic key changes, the Juggernauts received a warm reception from the now anxiously frothing audience, many dressed appropriately in a variety of costumes. Perhaps having seen the film 24 Hour Party People one too many times, Vincent Vendetta spilled forth youthful exuberance in his operatic vocal turns and ambivalent posturing. Meanwhile drummer Daniel Stricker never relented his pounding on the skins, even when his comrades joined him on an electronic percussion jam center stage. However, Andrew Juggernaut stood out as he led his fellow bandmates with commanding skills on the bass, guitar and synth, taking almost all the solos. Juggernaut and Vendetta occasionally switched instruments, most successfully while sampling some Daft Punk during a "Welcome to the Freakshow" jam. Ending by stating, "This is the third time we've shared the stage with The Flaming Lips in as many days," Wayne Coyne certainly enjoyed his protégées, smiling like a Cheshire cat in the shadows side stage.

While the crowd swelled to near sold out capacity, the master of ceremonies, Wayne Coyne, repeatedly surveyed his band's equipment, stalking back and forth across the stage while his mates sound-checked their gear. Soon disappearing backstage, their massive lo-fi display screen came to life, depicting a naked, glowing neon woman contorting as an emanating light from between her widely spread legs sent the words "birth" out to the band and crowd. This must be seen to be believed as one by one band members opened a hidden door in the screen and marched down a plank positioned by stagehands. With guitar/synthesizer wizard Steven Drozd positioned behind his rig stage left, Kliph Scurlock sitting atop his drum throne center stage, and the always cool Michael Ivins seated bass in hand off to the right, the crew slowly inflated Wayne's now customary sphere. Bouncing around the first few rows of the crowd as the Lips opened with "Race for the Prize," Coyne's shit-eating grin inside his clear bubble was matched by every fan that pushed his orb back towards the stage.

The Flaming Lips :: 07.28 :: Sydney, Australia
The show's energy may have peaked early with Coyne introducing the third tune, "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song," as an ode to the new President of the U.S. of A. However, throughout the evening The Flaming Lips frontman was extremely cordial and talkative with the rabid crowd, stating the last time they were in Australia was for 2004's Big Day with Metallica, The Strokes and The Mars Volta, and that they'd be back sooner if "only Australia wasn't 9,000 fucking miles away." So true. Dedicated to their "cosmic brother Nick Cave," "Vein of Stars" had the Worm King and frogs stage left grooving with the Fat Sun and hot bunny dancers stage right in the wild party atmosphere of pure bliss that a Lips concert perpetuates. A ballad version of "Yoshimi... Part 1" followed closely by Coyne on trumpet for "Taps" mellowed the show with olfactory sensations of dank, possibly brought from their recent stop at Byron Bay's Splendour in the Grass days before.

Closing their set with a video display of The Daily Show's Jon Stewart introducing "She Don't Use Jelly," this smash tune off 1993's Transmissions from the Satellite Heart, let the rapturous Tuesday night crowd show they had a little more in their tank. Before capping it all off with "Do You Realize?," Coyne proclaimed, "The Flaming Lips audience is the greatest ever. You're not cynical. We throw balloons and confetti and you treat each as a magical piece of fairy dust or squishy magical piece of plastic. Through all this happiness, there are a couple people out there experiencing real sadness in their lives, too, and YOU give them a reason to think that tomorrow will be a brighter day."

During the extremely brief encore break, Coyne quickly ducked backstage to grab two of the frog people for a marriage proposal center stage, to which the female frog proclaimed, "It's about time." After a blowout night of Flaming Lips bombardment, I think many of their Australian fan-base would agree.

The Flaming Lips :: 07.28.09 :: Hordern Pavilion :: Sydney, Australia
Race for the Prize, Silver Trembling Hands, The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song, Fight Test, Enthusiasm for Life, Convinced Of The Hex, Mountain Side, Vein Of Stars, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots – Part 1, Pompeii Am Götterdämmerung, Taps, The Wand, She Don't Use Jelly
Encore: Do You Realize??

The Flaming Lips tour dates available here.

Continue reading for more pics of The Flaming Lips in Australia...


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