“You travel all around the world and play Australia and Japan and England and Finland and all around America. I wouldn’t say there’s really a favorite. Of course, I love San Francisco. There is some kinship even with the way the Grateful Dead would do their shows there in San Francisco. I don’t think, in a lot of ways, that we sound like the Grateful Dead, but in a lot of ways there’s a working family aspect of what we do that’s very much admires what the Grateful Dead did in their community. There are definitely aspects of that everywhere that we play. But, I mean, when you play things like Coachella or Bonnaroo, they’re all pretty fantastic.”
-Wayne Coyne to Crawdaddy
“When you think of the Grateful Dead or Pink Floyd they put on these big shows and it’s about more than just the music. It’s actually about audience participation and that we acknowledge our audience, and try and have it be like a big party. But when you’re onstage you are in high panic mode because its like “my god, is the screen going to fall over?”
-Michael Ivins to Concert Live Wire
As previously reported, The Flaming Lips opened their spring 2010 tour in Charlottesville with the live debuts of “The Sparrow Looks Up at the Machine” and “Powerless” and the first ever full performance of “I Can Be a Frog” in a regular Lips’ set (not a radio session or secret show promo). The opening night set (April 15) was Embryonic heavy – four additional songs from that 2009 album were also played and (as with two Texas shows in March, their only preceding 2010 gigs) “Worm Mountain” replaced standard opener for the past decade “Race for the Prize” as the first proper song and thus removing the one Soft Bulletin song played regularly in recent years (“Waitin’ for a Superman” was written on the set list, but not played). Likewise, the string of dates that followed were also Embryonic focused and a core set list has emerged (The Fear/ Worm Mountain/ Silver Trembling Hands/ The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song/Morning of the Magicians/ I Can Be A Frog/ Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots/ See the Leaves/ Powerless/ Pompeii Am Götterdämmerung/ Convinced of the Hex plus encores Brain Damege> Eclipse and Do You Realize???)… but there have been nightly variations (“The Sparrow Look Up at the Machine” was only played on the first few nights, a synth-symphonic instrumental with an audience created laser light show listed as “Red Lasers” was only performed April 17, “Vein of Stars” was reserved for April 18 and 22, “Happy Birthday” and “Watching the Planets” were only played April 19 and “She Don’t Use Jelly” was played after “Taps” as per usual on the first dates towards the end of show but rearranged into the mid-set acoustic sing-along section on later dates -with “The W.A.N.D.” resuming from previous years its late set place after “Taps”).
“Some of our super hardcore fans complain that our show doesn’t evolve and/or mutate as much as they’d like but this year, for the first time, ‘Race For The Prize’, will not open the show!”
-Steven to themusicslut.com
Steven Drozd: “One thing I could see happening this year is rocking out with a larger ensemble. We’re a band that could really take on some extra stage members to create a truly crazy experience of rock. Whether it’s something like Hendrix’s band during Woodstock or just some people up there making cohesive noise and polyrhythms, I think it’d be something we could tackle and successfully.”
In July 2009 keyboardist/ guitarist/ percussionist Derek Brown began to tour with The Flaming Lips – the only addition to the core trio of Wayne Coyne, Michael Ivins and Steven Drozd since drummer Kliph Scurlock began playing with them in 2002. In the months after the addition of Derek, the band occasionally mentioned in interviews the idea of adding more players to their live performances. So far that hasn’t happened, though during their collaborative performances with Stardeath and White Dwarfs fans have gotten a taste of what it might sound like if they did. Whether The Flaming Lips will add players for their 2011 concerts or if Ray will tour with The Flaming Lips in 2011 remains to be seen – though at the very least it seems likely he will rejoin them to play The Soft Bulletin with them for All Tomorrow’s Parties’ Don’t Look Back series on July 1, 2011 in London. Even if the New Year’s Eve Freak Out is his only concert with the band, it promises to be a special one with him playing timpani and various other percussion, synth keyboard, electric violin and harp…
Though unfortunately the last two dates of the first string of dates were canceled (Sun Fest, April 29 and Beale Street Music Festival, May1), the shows they did play were a jump-start to what looks to be an exciting year of live Lips. Openers Stardeath and White Dwarfs were fantastic, they’ve earned the approval of some of their harshish hardcore fans but also new fans who mostly enjoy the silly sing-alongs, Wayne rocking out psych-drone masterclasses on guitar and surreal theater in the form of giant laser hands was life affirmative, Michael was -as always- the quiet soul of the band, the Yo Gabba Gabba! costumed dancers (and Kliph’s matching T-shirt) were a fresh spin on a Lips’ ritual, Steven’s musical multitasking never ceases to amaze and they played some great places (including Cornell University’s Barton Hall – a 96 year old field house that was the largest unpillared room in the world for much of its history- and Cap Fed Park at Sandstone Amphitheater headlining a bill with The Dead Weather, Minus the Bear, White Rabbits, The Ettes and Stardeath and White Dwarfs). In fact, their appearance at Barton Hall has already gone down in history, or at least wikipedia, as a classic attempt at the “‘second most legendary show in Barton Hall history’ ” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barton_Hall), a reference to The Grateful Dead show played their 33 years ago today that for a number of years and a variety of reasons had an aura as the most agreed upon essential concert tape among Deadheads. Yes Wayne, they are all pretty fantastic.
Follow Psych Explorations of the Future Heart at http://twitter.com/FutureHeartDay … including songs, lyrics and quotes of the day (today’s remembering The Grateful Dead at Barton Hall May 8, 1977… hang it up see what tomorrow brings…)