The Flaming Lips
Genre: Alternative neo-psychedelic-space-dream rock
Just why The Flaming Lips aren’t more famous than they really are is a mystery. Since appearing from nowhere in 1993 with She Don’t Use Jelly, a silly but captivating novelty song, they have consistently released original, varied and challenging stuff – what other band would dare to release a cover version of the entire Dark Side of the Moon? And did it well, whatever the moaning old vinyl-licking farts had to say about it.
The band members may have had streets named after them in Oklahoma, and Do You Realize?? was voted the official rock song of the state, and they’ve won three Grammys: twice for Best Rock Instrumental Performance (Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon (Utopia Planitia)) and The Wizard Turns On… and also Best Engineered Non-Classical Album for At War with the Mystics, but they’ve generally had more commercial success abroad.
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1, The Golden Path (with The Chemical Brothers) and the terrific Yeah Yeah Yeah Song all made the Top 20 in the UK, and deservedly so, but their biggest hit back home remains their debut single, which only made number 55 on the Billboard.
And they’re possibly one of the most entertaining bands you’ll ever get to see live. Every band likes its gimmicks, but The Flaming Lips take them to another level. Barely a song goes by without the stage being lit up by puppets, balloons, giant hands, costumes, videos and whatnot, plus lots and lots and lots of confetti. And you’ll always get Wayne Coyne moving around the audience in his iconic plastic bubble thing. An odd ball for an oddball kind of guy.
Not only is their music physically visual, but the ambitious multi-layered arrangements always give you plenty to listen out for. It’s the kind of stuff where there are always things going on in the background that you may not even notice on the first few listens, while although not always serious, the lyrics are invariably witty. This is not really a band that can be pigeon holed in any particular genre – but wherever they dabble, they dabble very well indeed, always with huge doses of weirdness and some of the oddest song-titles ever devised. Electronics + experimentation + eccentricity = excellence.
The band hadn’t released any new material since 2009, but in 2012 vowed to bring out something new every month – and did so with their usual off-the-wallness. Having already released a 6 Hour Song (Found a Star on the Ground), in October they bettered that with the 24-hour 7 Skies H3. One track titled Two Blobs Fucking was released as twelve different YouTube videos that has to played at the same time, and others were released on limited edition flashdrives – including one in a bubblegum flavoured fetus and another in a marijuana flavoured skull. That’s the sort of thing The Flaming Lips like to do. Very little they do is conventional, and they’re all the better for it. They do gimmicks as gimmicks should be done.
If you think you’ve seen it all in music, but have never seen The Flaming Lips, then you haven’t actually seen it all in music at all. Period.
Did you know: Q magazine named The Flaming Lips as one of its 50 bands to see before you die. So now you know where you have to go. SOS 4.8 in Murcia – their first show in Europe of the year and only one in Spain.
Saturday May 5 Murcia SOS 4.8 Festival
1. Sleeping on the Roof
2. Race for the Prize
3. A Spoonful Weighs a Ton
4. The Spark That Bled
5. Laser Hands
6. The Spiderbite Song
8. Slow Motion
9. What Is the Light?
10. The Observer
11. Waitin’ for a Superman
12. Suddenly Everything Has Changed
13. The Gash
14. Feeling Yourself Disintegrate
15. Sleeping on the Roof
Encore: 16. Do You Realize??