No holds barred Flaming Lips in Charlotte

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The Flaming Lips
The Fillmore
Charlotte, NC
May 17, 2011


There really is nothing quite like a Flaming Lips show. It is a well orchestrated and larger-than-life spectacle that somehow manages to draw its audience closer as opposed to keep them at bay as many theatric filled shows do.

As part of their journey south on their current 35 stop summer tour, The Lips made a stop in Charlotte, NC. As many know, front man Wayne Coyne and company have become almost as famous for the seminal onstage theatrics that their live gig brings as they have for the music itself.

2i6p6856-l.jpgLeading up to the gig, there was definitely a curiosity in regards to how and if the theatrics would play out similarly in the small indoor room that would play host to the Oklahoma natives while they were in North Carolina.

As the show began, any notion that Charlotte would receive anything less than what we have come to expect via festival performances was squashed.  Every trick was brought to the table: balloons, confetti cannons, epileptics-beware strobes, a full size LCD screen, Coyne’s inflatable hamster ball, the bear, the big hands and the giant mirror ball…literally everything but made even more spectacular due to the size of the room.

Before The other Lips took the stage, Coyne made an appearance to address the crowd and gave a warning about possible effects on the fans by the intense strobe lights. His advice was to look down if anyone began to feel faint. Coyne would soon be addressing the throng on a much different level so this statement of sanity was actually quite nice.

As the evening officially got underway, Wayne proceeded to get into the aforementioned ball/bubble and the inflation thereof began. As he rolled out into the crowd (as is somewhat standard these days). the beheld sight was quite spectacular within The Fillmore confines.

Why Coyne has taken this on as a semi-permanent part of his act is anybody’s guess, but by partaking in  the schtick at the onset of the evening, the crowd and band were immediately one in regards to physical space; making the emotional parallel that much easier to access.

For the next song, a man-sized bear came out and Coyne climbed on his back, using the bear’s nostrils as his own personal reins as he bucked like a rodeo cowboy and sang “Worm Mountain.” Throughout the number, huge inflated balloons were thrown from the stage into the crowd amidst confetti from a frequently erupting cannon. It was sensory overloading splendor.

Enter: Oz.  Yes, it seems that The Lips have an affinity for the story originally told by L. Frank Baum and their homage was shown through dancers (who are always crowd members) that were brought onto the stage dressed as the Judy Garland version of Dorothy, complete with blue and white farm dress but sans ruby slippers. As they danced side-stage, we were all reminded that we were indeed entering a land above the clouds.

i-4mxhfzh-m.jpgApparently Coyne realized that many would not expect the “full show” and at one point he stopped to address the crowd and talk about how they are doing their usual show even on a small stage, cynically stating that they did this so that people in the audience would be able to say after the show that “the show was too much.” That Wayne, you gotta love him.

Musically, the evening was full of well played and endearing crowd favorites and Lips staples including the song that sprung The Lips into the alternative scene spotlight in the 90s, “She Don’t Use Jelly” (thanks, Beavis). Later, the beloved song spew continued with such numbers as “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” and “The Yeah, Yeah, Yeah Song.” The latter of which, came complete with full audience accompaniment.

The second of the double-encore, “Do You Realize?,” sent the crowd off into the night on the chilled out note that the ballad-esque song inevitably brings. It provided a perfect and introspective cap for an evening that ran the emotional gamut.

As the near capacity crowd departed, they could all safely say that they had experienced The Flaming Lips. Curiosities satisfied, it was still safe to say that, again, there truly is nothing on the planet quite like a Flaming Lips gig…even when played within the relatively small confines of the Queen City’s Fillmore on an otherwise quiet Tuesday evening.

Click the thumbnail to view More of Brad Kuntz‘s Photos from The Show!

Setlist

The Fear,  Worm Mountain, Silver Trembling Hands, She Don’t Use Jelly, The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song (With All Your Power), The Gash, Is David Bowie Dying?, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1, See the Leaves,  Laser Hands, The Ego’s Last Stand, Pompeii Am Götterdämmerung, What Is the Light?, The Observer

Encore:  Race for the Prize, Do You Realize?

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