Flaming Lips and Weezer are playing a show together…where they are actually playing together.”
-Wayne Coyne, July 11th press release
Billed as LipsWeezer/WeezerLips Extravaganza, The Flaming Lips and Weezer played a pair of shows together on Thursday, July 28th at New Jersey’s PNC Bank Arts Center and the next night at Long Island’s Jones Beach. The plan was first revealed in a July 11th press release (which can be viewed, unedited, here): “Weezer and the Flaming Lips will trade off songs back and forth for the entire length of each concert, allowing them to take turns playing a few songs each in one big exciting set… This will be a first for both bands as they will take the stage together and trade off songs. Naturally, these will be very special events and most likely will never happen again. The only thing that can be predicted is to expect the unpredictable. Yeasayer will provide support… Needless to say don’t miss these unprecedented, monumental happenings.”
Having gone to both shows, I was constantly reminded how and why I love these bands…
…and why these concerts were awesome:
The Flaming Lips – particularly Steven Drozd – seemed to really dig playing Weezer’s “Undone (The Sweater Song)” on Thursday night (as for Friday… see #2 below). Likewise, both nights Rivers pointed out Weezer’s love for The Flaming Lips. These concerts were clearly masterminded by Wayne, but the initial idea was Rivers’. Weezer are long-time Lips fans and following the success of their début “Blue Album” deliberately aimed for their follow-up to sound more like the Lips (even hiring Lips producer Dave Fridmann to engineer five tracks of that album, the fan-fav Pinkerton – read more about that and hear Dave discuss the making of Pinkerton here).
Said Rivers at PNC, “We used to go see them [The Flaming Lips] play, now we’re up here.”
Above picture by swordstool
#2 “Undone (The Sweater Song)” at Jones Beach
Both nights ended like a 1994 episode of 120 Minutes as Weezer and the Lips joined forces to play “She Don’t Use Jelly” (aka The Vaseline Song) and “Undone (The Sweater Song)” together. On “Jelly” Rivers sang the second verse (while Wayne bowed down to him on one knee) and then traded off lines with Coyne on the third (hear it from PNC below).
The celebratory, triumphant finale to the second show however stood out as a unforgettable WeezerLips Extravaganza peak. Wayne shot confetti guns while sitting on the shoulders of a bear that was walked through the audience. Rivers also mingled in the crowd as he led the crowd singing “Undone”. Eventually both frontmen were back on stage, and by the time the extended “oh-oh-oh” refrain repeated to the end – the entire audience singing by this point - Rivers was on top of the bear.
Pictures of Jones Beach finale via brooklynvegan:
#3 Wayne Coyne walking over people in a space bubbles is fun…
… Wayne and Rivers, more so…
It was speculated prior the shows Rivers would join Wayne in walking over the crowd in a space bubble during the intro – The Flaming Lips’ standard entrance for the past five years. Cuomo was even quoted in the July 11th press release, “I asked Wayne if he has an extra bubble I could ride in.”
Then Wayne hinted that Rivers would actually be in his inflatable raft. The below picture tweeted by Coyne on July 21st, displays Wayne’s entrance plan: first Lip Steven Drozd, then Weezer’s Pat Wilson, then Kliph… and so on. Note at the bottom of the sketch both “W” (aka Wayne) and “R” (aka Rivers) appeared on stage inside objects. Wayne’s circle was obviously his space bubble… but what was surrounding Rivers? It’s not space bubble-shaped. Was it a space rocket? A snuggie?
A second picture suggested Wayne would surf the crowd in his space bubble while Rivers took a raft. But alas, in the end it turned out to be two bubbles after-all.
#4 Q: What’s more awesome than seeing Wayne and Rivers in space bubbles?
A: Hearing the rest of their bands combine to cover Black Sabbath’s “Sweat Leaf” as their respective frontmen walked on top of you. My personal favorite was watching Weezer’s drummer Josh Freese and the Lips’ Kliph Scurlock simultaneously get their Bill Ward on …
The video screen behind them cosmically projected images of two nude women playfully pushing each other and dancing. What’s not to like???
#5 Intro was wicked
Let’s back up a bit. Even before the “Sweat Leaf” cover soundtracked the double bubble ride, an intro film specifically created for these shows by The Flaming Lips started the show.
First a cosmic-looking, robotic-sounding nude, lesbian couple appeared on the Lips’ huge video screen and introduced the bands. Then the pair made-out with each other – check the video teasers in Wayne’s tweets below - and each band emerged from one side of a specially designed double-rainbow graphic (see picture at left). Finally, Wayne and Rivers appeared on stage inside space bubbles, as if the circular rainbows were radiating off of them..
Wonderful pictures of the entrance at Jones Beach were photographed by brooklynvegan. Check out some of the highlights here:
#6 Rivers’ request
It’s common to hear sing-along requests at concerts such as “let’s see what you got“, and “do it again, LOUD“. Rivers said both of those at PNC during the end of “Perfect Situation” - which is after all, essentially designed to be sung by large masses of people. But after the third repeat, Rivers request was a bit more specific, “one more time, add a harmony…”
Music geeks unite! Speaking of which the choral-esque harmonies during the break-down in “Surf Wax America” at Jones Beach were wonderful.
#7 Wayne’s banter
On the first night both bands came out as described above - two bubbles, “Sweat Leaf” etc – then Weezer left the stage and the Lips transitioned into the first proper song of the night, “Worm Mountain”. Afterwards Wayne addressed the crowd - hyping them up, “Our drummer Kliph has been playing for so long that the only thing he gets off of anymore is when people go crazy.“
That pretty much sums up both nights.
#8 Kliph Getting Off… Josh too…
Kliph’s drumming was exceptional – especially mid-way through – “Pompeii Am Götterdämmerung”.
A very in-demand session drummer, as well as a current member of DEVO, Josh joined Weezer in 2009 so Patrick Wilson could play guitar. On the two dates with the Lips, Patrick occasionally ran back to play an older Weezer song at the kit, but mostly Josh handled the flamacue-diddles. With exaggerated full-body motions, Josh was certainly getting off too, especially during “Paranoid Android”.
#9 Side by side sets
When these shows were first announced there was uncertainty which band would play last. Weezer has a larger following, but no band wants to follow the Lips on stage – both for logistical reasons and because all those balloons, space bubbles, laser hands and the like make them a hard act to follow. Adding to the confusion, some websites listed one show as “Weezer with The Flaming Lips” but the other as “The Flaming Lips with Weezer” (implying they were trading headliner and concert-closing status). The only thing that has been clear all along is that Yeasayer would open both shows. As it turned out Weezer and the Lips took the stage at the same time!
The “side-by-side” idea – more accurately described as “back-and-forth” – was novel, and the transitions from one band to another were surprisingly seemless. On Friday, Rivers began improvising on acoustic guitar in a psychedelic, quasi-exotic style as he walked on stage at “Pompeii Am Götterdämmerung’s” end – leaving no gap between bands. Wayne mused at both shows that this unique concert format may never be repeated, or that it could become commonplace. Although neither band was ever on stage for a long enough chunk of time to develop their own flow, the pacing of each was brightened by the continual changes. As Wayne pointed out at PNC, if you went to the bathroom while the Lips were playing, Weezer was on stage by the time you returned. In other words, never a dull moment.
#10 “Goddamn you half-Japanese girls …”
“El Scorcho” does it to me every time - and the versions at PNC and Jones Beach (with Rivers on acoustic guitar) were no exceptions. In fact the whole Weezer PNC setlist in particular was exceptional – almost like a condensed Memories Tour (in which they played “Blue Album” and Pinkerton in their entireties on consecutive nights). In New Jersey they even played “El Scorcho” b-side “You Gave Your Love To Me Softly” – not to mention “Tired of Sex”, “The Good Life”, “My Name is Jonas”, “Buddy Holly”, “Say It Ain’t So”, “Susanne” and “Only In Dreams”, among other highlights.
The Flaming Lips on the other-hand played mostly material from the past two years.
Wayne Coyne – banter (explanation of concert plan, warnings, double space bubble talk, etc)
The Flaming Lips – intro noises and music (bits of “The Fear” and “In Excelsior Vaginalistic”) >
The Flaming Lips and Weezer - “Sweat Leaf” (Black Sabbath cover, this was while Wayne Coyne and Rivers Cuomo rolled over the audience in space bubbles)
The Flaming Lips “Worm Mountain”
The Flaming Lips – “Silver Trembing Hands”
The Flaming Lips – “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song”
Weezer - “Hashpipe”
Weezer - “El Scorcho”
Weezer - “Perfect Situation”
The Flaming Lips – “Is David Bowie Dying??”
The Flaming Lips – “See the Leaves” > “Laser Hands”
Weezer – “My Name is Jonas”
Weezer – “Susanne” 1st night, “Dope Nose” 2nd night
Weezer – “The Good Life” 1st night, “Troublemaker” 2nd night
The Flaming Lips – “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots”
The Flaming Lips – “Ego’s Last Stand”
The Flaming Lips – “Pompeii Am Götterdämmerung”
Rivers Cuomo 1st night strummed a bit on guitar singing heartfelt “oh”s, then banter about Lips (“They’ve been our favorite band ever since the beginning…“)
Rivers Cuomo/ Weezer – “Island in the Sun” (started with just Rivers singing and playing electric guitar; the rest of the band came on stage during second verse, joined in at second refrain)
Weezer – “You Gave Your Love To Me Softly” 1st night, “Surf Wax America” 2nd night
Weezer 2nd night only– “Beverly Hills”
Weezer - “Paranoid Android” (introduced as “a song by another favorite band of ours” – Radiohead cover)
The Flaming Lips – “What is the Light?” > “The Observer”
Weezer – “Pork and Beans”
Weezer 1st night only– “Tired of Sex”
Weezer – “Say It Ain’t So”
Weezer – “(If You Are Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To”
The Flaming Lips – “Do You Realize???”
Weezer 2nd night only – “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)”
Weezer – “Buddy Holly”
Weezer 1st night only – “Only In Dreams”
The Flaming Lips and Weezer – “She Don’t Use Jelly”
Weezer and The Flaming Lips – “Undone – The Sweater Song”
#11 Rock can’t be stopped
It didn’t just rain Friday night, it poured. So much so that the entire audience was forced to evacuate the Jones Beach Theater after Yeasayer’s opening set. It delayed the Extraganza… but it certainly didn’t stop it.
#12 Ask the insect…
Wayne Coyne designed a special poster for these two shows – including across its top lyrics from “I’m Working at NASA on Acid” – a new song released a couple of days prior these shows (hear it here). Wayne tweeted a picture of the limited edition poster on July 25th, and the next day a facebook messsage from a member of the Lips’ crew updated the poster was “almost done printing…just the over print left.” Sure enough, they were in stock at both shows. Though the price was a bit high ($100) and the rain on Friday made for terrible circumstances to make such a purchase, the image is still powerful: black rain and two nude women – one with a butterfly in her hand, the other holding a skull as a rainbow shoots from between her legs.
#13 Fellow musicians are fans too
#14 Follow them to the show, and backstage (“setlist powow”) on twitter – and online
#15 Steven wasn’t tweeting in the middle of the Lips set…
…he was using his iPhone as a freaky sounding instrument. Hear an example from the weekend the band live debuted their recent Neon Indian collaboration “Is David Bowie Dying??” here.
#16 Great hugs!!
#17 Love love love (via YouTube users)
TheSuperMarioFan500 – “Great concert and great time!”
Getitlivenow - “…what an awesome show and concept of switching bands every few songs and playing together.”
Ailvento - “…a conjoined union that was a pleasant surprise…”
MarctheManSeligman – “This was truly one of the most amazing shows I’ve been to in my life.”
louie3020 - “Easily one of the top 10 concerts I’ve ever attended. Two incredible bands in the pouring rain with a unique concept…”
FCMahgeetah – “I WAS TOO BUSY ENJOYING MYSELF TO RECORD ANY MORE.”
Alfredoplessmann - “BEST SHOW EEEEVEERRRR!”
return to Long Island September 9th
Yeah, these two shows were phenomenal… but what’s next?
Weezer has no concerts scheduled in the New York metro area at this time… on January 19 – 23, 2012 they are hosting a cruise from Miami to the island of Cozumel off of the Gulf Coast of Mexico (see the full band schedule here).
In September the Lips come back to the area. Other than the date (the 9th) and town (Long Beach), little has been revealed about the Lips’ Long Island return. To borrow a phrase from “Fight Test”, “it’s all a mystery” – especially since Long Beach doesn’t have any venues the size the Lips would normally play, and no ticket info has surfaced (despite being little more than a month away). All this only makes the anticipation that much stronger.
It’s possible this is a private engagement, or more likely, tied into the Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour competition coming to Long Beach September 4th – 15th. The Flaming Lips have made a point to play atypical venues this year – such as Colorado’s Snowball Festival, Cheshire, UK’s Jodrell Bank Astrophysics Observatory, and the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and Belltower - why not a surfing contest as well?
Follow Weezer and Flaming Lips updates at twitter/TheFutureHeart and check out related posts:
- Making of Pinkerton: Dave Fridmann Details Working On Weezer’s Cult Classic
- Get Psyched for WeezerLips Extravaganza