On Saturday April 9 at 8 p.m., I went to a concert…with my dad. And honestly, he matched the crowd more than I did. But that is to be expected from a psychedelic rock band formed in 1983. Despite their age, these guys know how to put on a performance.
The show was sold out. The floor was packed with dancing fans and the upstairs seats were fully filled.
First off, the opening act, Heartless Bastards, came on stage. The American Rock band from 2003 got the crowd dancing and swaying to their relaxed rock ‘n roll music. The lead guitarist of the band stole the show with his many solos that happened throughout their 45 minute performance.
Shortly after, The Flaming Lips came on to the stage to the sound of their screaming fans.
Although many college students from Gen Z may not be so familiar with The Flaming Lips, the group has won three Grammy Awards, including two for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. They were also placed on Q magazine's list of the "50 Bands to See Before You Die" in 2002.
The lead vocalist, Wayne Coyne, came out on stage wearing a slick black suit, his hair long and voluptuous with gray curls flying loose. The stage was set up with the two drummers on either back corners and both wearing neon green wigs. In the front right corner was the keyboard, the front left corner had the basset and in the middle of the stage was Coyne. He was standing in a huge blow-up bubble, something he started doing during the pandemic.
Before the band even started singing, Coyne was on stage with a mechanic flying bird that he flew around the crowd as a way to lead into their first song: “My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion”.
Throughout the show, Coyne kept saying “You gotta scream! Let the world know how good you’re feeling” to keep the crowd engaged, jumping and singing. The crowd consisted of people in their early-30s to their mid-50s whose energy matched that of a teenager.
This concert was nothing short of a party; within the first two songs, confetti was blown twice and the music beat so loud you could feel it throughout your entire body.
During the second song, “Do You Realize??”, one of the band's most famous songs, an enormous blow-up rainbow spanned the entire stage, confetti was blown and rainbow lights danced throughout the theater.
By their third song, “Yoshimi Battles Pink Robots”, an enormous light pink blow-up Robot about 12 feet tall stood on stage next to Coyne and the band.
The light show and the screen behind the band consistently featured bright neon lights in sporadic motion with lasers and disco balls.
While the set was being changed between songs, glow-in-the-dark balloons were passed among the crowd. At one point, Coyne took a stage light on a string and swung it around like a lasso while the crowd screamed and jumped to the beat of the music.
As I listened to the concert, I realized that The Flaming Lips perform not with the intent to be as focused on the lyrics of their songs, but more on valuing the beat of their music and creating an interactive experience with their audience.
The music was so loud at points that the lyrics couldn’t even be heard. But the crowd didn’t care. They knew they were there to party and feel the intensity of this unique and crazy environment that makes it feel as though you are submerged in the music and rock; listening to the music, you can’t help but move your body to the rhythm.
Coyne came into the Sylvee with one mission: make this the best show.
“We can never take concerts for granted. You never know what’s gonna happen in this beautiful chaotic world we live in,” Coyne said. “This could be our last concert, but if it’s our last concert, we will make sure it’s our best concert.”
The Flaming Lips American Head American tour started in November of 2021, and the 39-date tour is reaching an end as their last concert is coming up in the beginning of May.
I don’t know if I would listen to The Flaming Lips’s music on my own time, but if given the opportunity, I would definitely attend one of their performances again. Seeing The Flaming Lips in concert is nothing like I’ve ever seen before and their concert is an experience that I will never forget.