In July 2012 Tulsa World announced The Flaming Lips would return to OKC’s annual Halloween parade – a rumor that was never true. The group had led the March of 1000 Flaming Skeletons from 2007-2010, leaving participants to wonder if their absence in 2011 was just a one year scheduling conflict or a departure from the tradition altogether. Fans were therefore understandably disappointed when Lips multi-instrumentalist Derek Brown alerted The Future Heart that the band was “definitely not doing the parade…The Tulsa World thing was in error” – though this news was overshadowed by something bigger and better in the works.
Rumors spread throughout the summer of 2012 that the band were planning a free local show to make-up for no 2012-2013 New Years Eve Freakout. On August 1st examiner.com claimed two unidentified members of the Lips were in talks to play OKC’s adult addictions Referral Center’s annual Family Recovery Fair in the early Fall at Military Park. Allegedly this too was never true, though the same source updated three weeks later that an October show was being planned, and quoted Wayne Coyne on the matter:
“Free Flaming Lips concert at the Zoo. You think anyone would show up for that?”
Wayne confirmed the plan at Colbchella, “We try to do this thing in Oklahoma – we only try to do one thing a year, and so, this year, we’re doing a free show at the zoo,” he told QRogMag, “We had been doing New Year’s Eve shows – we’re not doing that this year.”
The OKC Zoo officially revealed on September 2nd “that we will offer you the public a free show with Oklahomas own “THE FLAMING LIPS” That is us thanking you for your years of patronage at the Zooamp under our management and it is our way of giving back to you the Oklahomans who have supported us for so many years.”
This would be the last ever Zoo show under Innervisionsinc (following a heated battle for control). What better send-off could there be than a free show by hometown heroes The Flaming Lips? This was the ideal way for Innervisionsinc to thank all the fans who saw their concerts at the Zoo over the years – including Wayne Coyne who, among other shows, saw Phish there just a week before.
What’s more, this would be a triumphant return to the venue for the Lips. Though they only played the Zoo once before, it was a legendary September 2006 show recorded and released as their live DVD/ MP3 download album UFOs at the Zoo. As the name suggests, this was the show that debuted a giant stage prop allowing the band to “land” on stage from a UFO – giving their own twist to the classic P-Funk and ELO entrance.
“That show was one of the high marks of that series of performances,” Wayne wrote in the DVD linear notes. “The Zoo has it’s own prestige for Okies…I had seen, back in the day, Frank Zappa and the Grateful Dead there. Both were legendary shows, but they were in the warm summer sun… this was mid-September, the summer concert series was winding down and we’re always cautious of asking too much of the audience….A good quarter of the audience dressed up in some absurd costume. I saw one woman with her entire body covered in green make-up….The flaming lips audience is a living, breathing aurora borealis.”
But there was more. Their 2012 return to the Zoo was also planned to be that Halloween’s “largest costume party in the midwest.”
On September 10th The Flaming Lips announced the show would be October 26th, with Stardeath and White Dwarfs and New Fumes – coinciding with the start of their King Crimson tribute tour and album release.
The Zoo reported: “ALL TICKETS WILL BE AVAILABLE ON A FIRST COME FIRST SERVE BASIS. We will stop giving tickets away at the gate when we fill up the venue to capacity. Come join us for the greatest free show ever to come to THE ZOO AMPHITHEATRE with the most important Oklahoma band THE FLAMING LIPS.”
Considering the 2006 UFO Zoo show’s status in Lips history, a return to the venue would be memorable under any circumstance. That it would also be a free concert and “costume party” as well as the last ever hosted by the longtime management suggested this would be a big deal – a Halloween Freak Out virtually guaranteed to become instantly legendary in the band’s lore.
There were a few surprises at Freak Night, including Steven’s costume and the band’s jam on The Exorcist section of Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells.” Though not planned, Wayne had a serious gash in his leg – perfect for gory banter. And then there was the talk of getting shots of blood from Starbucks.
Sweet Leaf (Black Sabbath)
The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song
Tubular Bells (Mike Oldfield)
The Ego’s Last Stand
Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell
Is David Bowie Dying??
Waitin’ for a Superman
Pompeii Am Götterdämmerung
See the Leaves > Laser Hands
What Is the Light? > The Observer
Encore: Do You Realize??
The biggest surprise of all however came from fans who snuck their own space bubble in, then hoisted up “Space Girl” to walk over them and greet Wayne during his famous bubble crowd surf (as shown in the video above). The entire show was filmed by Delo Creative, the Lips’ “visualist” team, and edited into the hour long documentary Freak Night. The film premiered online at ustream.tv/theflaminglips as a free 24 hour webstream on December 22, 2012. Watch Wayne explain the premiere below:
When Freak Night originally streamed online it was hinted a DVD version was in the works. That idea appears to have been dropped (though based on the fact that there’s a proto-type diorama in Dwelling Spaces that was created to package the disc if it had been released, they must have seriously considered the release). The entire film is now streaming online:
Freak Night’s theatrical premiere followed at a “special costume/dance party” that was part of the 2013 XPN Music Film Festival – attendees were encouraged to come in costumes. The second annual event produced by the Philadelphia Film Society was held April 12th-14th and also featuring Big Star – Nothing Can Hurt Me, Kathleen Hanna bio-doc The Punk Singer, and more. Below read the film tracklist and the official theatrical description followed by pictures from the night.
Sweet Leaf (Black Sabbath) – 6:18
Worm Mountain – 9:05
The Ego’s Last Stand – 16:03
The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song – 26:05
Tubular Bells – 31:05
Drug Chart – 35:38
See the Leaves > Laser Hands – 41:39
Do You Realize?? – 51:18
“A party, a concert, a portrait of fandom and a haunted excursion all rolled into one, this video document of The Flaming Lips’ famed 2012 Halloween show has enough blood, ghouls and goblins to keep you rockin’ all night long. Join us for a special costume/dance party screening of the Delo Creative’s beautiful concert doc.”