Popping the bubble on The Flaming Lips’ live show

You’ve seen one bubble you’ve seen them all, even if The Flaming Lips’ frontman Wayne Coyne is inside.
Photo: Erik Kabik/ RETNA

I was at Coachella 2004 the night The Flaming Lips debuted their giant bubble. And I was at the Cosmo pool on Friday, when frontman Wayne Coyne rolled over the crowd in the same damn piece of plastic. Isn’t the most innovative live band in the world supposed to change up its routine at least once every seven years?

The Flaming Lips at Boulevard Pool

Oh, that’s right, Coyne did climb onto the shoulders of a dude in a bear costume for part of a song. That was definitely worth the $40 ticket price.

Actually, it wasn’t even worth the drive over. If you’ve seen the Lips before, look deep into your heart, past all the bullshit praise that’s been heaped onto these guys, and you’ll realize I’m right. (Note: Using hallucinogenics during this exercise will result in a false positive.) And if you’ve never seen the Lips, here’s what you need to know: The first 10 minutes are pretty entertaining—balloons, streamers, psychedelic videos, confetti and yes, Wayne’s hamster routine—and then you might as well leave, ’cause it ain’t gonna get any more interesting. Coyne’s midshow laser-shooting hands notwithstanding.

The Details

The Flaming Lips
June 17, Cosmopolitan pool

You’ll notice I’ve written 189 words without once mentioning the music. I’m just channeling my inner Flaming Lip, in homage to the industry leaders in putting the music last. But when the visuals come first and the visuals don’t wow, what does that leave us with? A setlist loaded with junk off ponderous 2009 album Embryonic? I actually like a few of their older tunes, but it’s tough to focus on anything coming from the speakers when there are naked girls with hula hoops (onscreen) and clothed girls in Dorothy costumes (onstage) assaulting our eyeballs, to say nothing of that jerkoff running around trying to keep a red balloon in the air.

Coyne’s voice, never an instrument on par with, say, John Coltrane’s sax or Jimi Hendrix’s guitar, particularly sucked on Friday. Maybe the fur scarf he kept on all night—yes, in June, in Las Vegas—was to blame. More likely, that’s just how Coyne sounds coming off back-to-back Hollywood gigs. Wait, he had a day off between LA and Vegas? Scratch that. Lips apologists will have to blame it on the scarf.

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is the Editor of Las Vegas Weekly, having previously served as Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor and ...

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