30 Years of Flaming Lips and Halloween

The Flaming Lips are releasing two new EPs on Halloween 2013 – a split with Tame Impala (preview here) and a set of new originals, Peace Sword (streaming here). They’re also premiering a new documentary, A Beautiful Fucking Experience, at midnight on Halloween and their music will also be used Ender’s Game (opening in select theaters on Halloween).  That’s all in addition to the main event – their Halloween Blood Bath.  This may seem like a lot, but for the Lips it’s business as usual.  After all, there’s no day in the band’s history more significant than Halloween.  Below is a look back at some of the ways the group has celebrated the day over their 30 year career, including last year’s Freak Night (streaming here):


Wayne Coyne was Adam Ant for Halloween.

But of course.

(Shown to the right with his baby nephew, future Stardeath and White Dwarfs frontman Dennis Coyne).


The Flaming Lips’ career was forever altered when a record store kid named Scott Booker stumbled upon the band after bailing on Sting’s Halloween concert.  “My favorite Flaming Lips show is the very first one I ever saw,” Scott has since recalled Paste.  It was Halloween night in the mid-’80s. I went to see Sting at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma. It was boring beyond belief. I left the venue with about 10 friends and found a flier on all of our cars for a Sting after-show party with the Flaming Lips. I can’t remember the name of the venue (and would kill to find one of these fliers), but the venue was on the old main street of Norman. My friends and I all walked in to a near empty room with the Lips onstage doing a punk version of “If You Love Someone Set Them Free.” I was immediately floored by the energy on the stage. They were like nothing I’d ever seen before. My friends left before the first song was over. I stayed watching the whole show by myself. I haven’t missed a show within 100 miles since.”

Scott went on to become the band’s manager, and a major reason they’re not just still around, but flourishing almost three decades later.


Though he was still five years away from being a Flaming Lip, Steven Drozd knew where it was at:


The Lips’ sophomore album is believed to have been released within a few days of Halloween 1987 (the exact date is unknown).  One of the standout tracks is “The Ceiling Is Bendin'”.  It begins:

“Well, it’s midnight in a liquor store in Texas on Halloween
Salvador Dali watches from his window in a dream
Jesus is a rock star who destroys all he sees
Godzilla is a cowboy who is dressed up as a queen”


The Flaming Lips released their major label debut on Halloween, the EP Yeah, I Know It’s a Drag… But Wastin’ Pigs Is Still Radical.

Still Radical

According to some accounts, Steven Drozd also joined the band on October 31, 1991.  Also this year – though not on Halloween – the Lips demo-ed new song “Halloween on the Barbary Coast.”


Wayne and  Michelle dressed as silver aliens:



The Lips played a blistering show in Norman, Oklahoma on Halloween.  It’s the only time the band performed “Halloween on the Barbary Coast” on October 31st:


While on the grueling tour that lead “She Don’t Use Jelly” on to Top 40 radio nationally, The Lips played Columbus, Ohio’s Veteran’s Memorial on Halloween, opening for Candlebox.


Likewise, eight years later they again shot into the mainstream (in a much more durable way) on a fall tour as the opening band and backing band for Beck.  The first leg of that tour ended with two nights at New York’s Beacon Theater on October 30th and 31st.  The Halloween show was particularly notable for stellar versions of  ”Little One” and ”Where It’s At” – the latter jammed out before Beck segued into his harmonica solo/ acapello spotlight, “One Foot in the Grave”.  While they were in New York they also taped two episodes of “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.”  The first was backing Beck on “Lost Cause” (with Ted Danson joining them on triangle) on October 29th.  The second was their own ”Do You Realize???”  Naturally, their performance aired on Halloween.


While on the tour that certified their British acclaim – having built up an overwhelming buzz overseas that summer at Glastonbury and “saving” T in the Park – they hit Birmingham’s Academy 2 Manchester on Halloween night.  Alfie and Steve Burns were the supporting acts.


Vegoose 2005 was on Halloween weekend, with an all-star roster (Beck, Sleater-Kinney, The Shins, Ween, Phil Lesh & Friends, Trey Anastasio, Primus, Arcade Fire, etc).  Essentially the final Lips set in support of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, this was a minor turning point show (and the last time they played “Slow Nerve Action,” bringing it back after a three year absence for one night only).  Michael and Kliph dressed as skeletons and Steven wore a huge Santa suit (in place of the animal costumes they donned for several years previous, but never again).  Apparently it was also at this festival Coyne and co. got the impression Arcade Fire were pompous.  Watch most of the Lips set below (unfortunately the audio is out of sync):


The Lips host the first March of 1000 Flaming Skeletons parade.  This was also the year Wayne set up “Blob in the Bath” on his lawn, infamously caught by Google’s street cam:

Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne (aka Blob in the Bath) Caught on Google Maps Street View


The March of 1000 Flaming Skeletons becomes part of the much larger Gazette Annual Ghouls Gone Wild Halloween Parade:


Let Wayne explain…

Also, Voodoo 2009 was all tricked out for Halloween weekend:
KISS + New Orleans + Janes’ Addiction’s reunion + The Flaming Lips = boo!


The final March of 1000 Flaming Skeletons:

Wayne Coyne also created a 500 pound brain to scare his neighborhood kids.  “It’s the biggest brain you’re ever going to encounter and you can ask it any question you want,” Wayne explained at the time.  “It doesn’t really answer. I have this mechanism set up where it screams some distorted, horrible stuff.”


Though it’s not quite as gory, Wayne also dressed his dog up as a skeleton for daytime fun in 2010…


Moog Fest 2011 was held on Halloween weekend with The Flaming Lips headlining Saturday night (Wayne Coyne was also scheduled to be featured at the festival’s art exhibit, but that didn’t work out).  On Sunday the Lips played a Halloween house party in a Parkersburg, West Virginia.  The band members each wore a goulish costume (below) and their special set was limited to just three songs worked up especially for the occasion:

  • “Halloween” by Dream Syndicate
  • “Black Sabbath” by Black Sabbath
  • “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” by Bauhaus

The latter two were never played publicly by the band prior (or since).  The Dream Syndicate cover was previously played on February 8, 1988 (though apparently the band forgot that fact).  More details are here.

Truth be told, the Lips seemed a bit exhausted at that house party (and one of the members told me afterwards they in fact were).  No wonder – Moog Fest and the intimate Halloween set followed several weeks of creating “7 Skies H3” from scratch and encasing them in limited edition human skulls topped with chrome drips (in addition to numerous other fall 2011 projects).  The 24 hours-long song world premiered that night at flaminglipstwentyfourhoursong.com, streaming for all of Halloween day (and looping ever since).  Also on October 31, 2011, The Lips’ cover of The Beatles’ “Revolution” was one of the featured performances at the second O Music Awards. Yoko Ono introduced the Fab Four classic, which was rearranged on iPads in tribute to the recently deceased Steve Jobs.

Wow. . .  the Lips really were crazy busy in 2011!


The Flaming Lips hosted a free Halloween concert at the OKC Zoo the weekend before the holiday…. Freak Night!  It was recorded for a concert film which can be watched here (along with photos from the show and more details).

By October 31st a wound in Wayne’s leg had worsened severely, leading to him trick or treat from his hospital room:

Halloween 2012


Wayne Coyne October 2012 hospital


Following five northeast concerts with Tame Impala a few weeks ago, the Lips re-unite with the Aussies in California over a series of shows around Halloween (October 29th – November 1st).  Expect the unexpected.

Also expect The Flaming Lips/ Tame Impala split EP’s release

….and Peace Sword – the Lips’ other EP comprising six new songs – is out digitally two days before Halloween, a new music video to promote it at some time, and The Ender’s Game (with the credits using one the EPs tracks) in theaters Halloween weekend (with special screenings on Halloween night).

Also on Halloween, A Beautiful Fucking Experience – a new documentary by Sage Seb about The Flaming Lips’ Guinness World Records setting 24 hour tour through the Mississippi Delta – will premiere at San Francisco’s Roxie Theatre’s special benefit screening at midnight.  The perfect after party for the Blood Bath, Kitten Charmer has announced ticket reservations for $12 paypal sent to staff@kittencharmer.com. All KC proceeds will go to the Red Cross for disaster relief in Oklahoma.  Read more details about the film and watch its full trailer here.

This may end up the only screening…ever!  If you’re a Lips fan in the Frisco area you’d be foolish to not see this on Halloween. Read Kitten Charmer’s post here.


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