It was quite the evening at The Theatre at Ace in Downtown Los Angeles this past Tuesday. Happy people piled in the historic venue to see one of the most entertaining acts of our time — The Flaming Lips.
Kicking the night off was Klangstof. All the way from Norway, this band shone their pretty remarkable talents to the audience. 24-year old frontman, Koen Van De Wardt, fascinates with his super chilling vocals, and really impressive guitar talents. Having not heard these guys before, I was pleasantly surprised as I didn’t know what to expect from the opening act. The band’s soundscape seems so pure and unique to their expressions as musicians and creators. And even as put together and tight as their 45-minute set was, they still left this element of spontaneity in their performance. I really dug them. I’m sure opening up for The Flaming Lips is pretty damn nerve-wracking, and these guys owned the stage for their time slot.
Without further anticipation, The Flaming Lips arrived! Now, if you’ve been to one of the band’s shows before, you surely come to expect some eclectic decor and costume. No disappointment there. With inflatable mushrooms on each side of the stage, the story began. The practically ageless ringleader and frontman, Wayne Coyne is a rockstar at 56. He swiftly carries himself with the honor of leading the band in performance for their first song of the night, “Race For The Prize.” With that said, the Lips are indeed touring in support of their 14th studio album, Oczy Mlody; However, that didn’t mean they stuck solely to the brand new songs. After getting the night started with that ’99 single off The Soft Bulletin, they marched forth and took charge. With the song “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1,” Coyne decided to bring the energy to the audience. Without a second to think, gigantic balloons took flight as if you were in a bounce house. You couldn’t peel the happiness of Coyne’s face if you tried. He continued singing and letting off big blows of confetti to every inch of the crowd until the stage was covered in a bed of the stuff. Barely into the set and the Ace has much clean up duty on their hands! If your face didn’t hurt just yet from smiling, you didn’t have to wait much longer since Coyne disappeared and arrived gallantly on a magical, yet unreal, unicorn. It was only appropriate for the band then to play one of their new songs “There Should Be Unicorns.”
Within three songs, it was safe to say that the sold-out theatre made their way into the ultimate and blissful psychedelia. The party only just began. As a kid with ADD, a Lips show is nothing short of insanity! For one, you’ve a huge disco ball shining down center stage, where you then see Coyne’s shining gong that he continuously hits throughout their song “Pompeii Am Götterdämmerung.” There’s no sitting down at a Lips show either. Coyne makes sure of that. In between songs he’ll simply chant “YES!” and “Come on!” to keep the crowd as energetic as possible. In fact, it is strictly encouraged and almost enforced to lose your shit and have fun. In carrying on with the mesmerization, Coyne made another quick stage exit and returned in an inflatable hampster-like ball. Alright, I’m listening! Covering the late and great David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” Coyne rolled his way onto the first ten or so aisles of the orchestra. Purely fantastic. The night only wrapped up as perfectly as imagined with the group’s beloved anthem, “Do You Realize??”
If you ever get the chance to see a Flaming Lips show in your lifetime, just do it.
Words & Photography: Danielle Gornbein