Monday, July 24, 2006

Hot Night with the Lips. Too Hot.

Last night was a couple firsts for me. In my six years of living in LA, it was my first concert at the Hollywood Bowl as well as my first Flaming Lips concert. I know many of you consider that a travesty on both counts. What can I say? I'm a small venue kind of guy. Though it was the combination of the spectacle of a Flaming Lips concert tucked into the Hollywood Hills that made me willing to deal with park and ride, and the 17 thousand in attendance. On the whole, I'd say the night was hit and miss.

The biggest problem was that LA is in an unprecedented heatwave. It was ridiculously hot last night. When you are willing to pay for water what you would for a beer, you know it's hot. Big ups to Tamara who brought the samaches and enough water to last till the sun went down.

The Theivery Corporation was the opening act. They brought their bohemian dirty hippie vibe to the concert. There's nothing as frightening or as enthralling as dancing dirty hippie girls.

But the real reason the people were at the sold out Bowl was for The Flaming Lips. I personally was expecting a giant spectacle. The first good news was that they were shooting this concert for a DVD. That meant they would go all out with the spectacle. At least I originally thought it was a good sign. My second thought was why would they shoot a concert at the Hollywood Bowl? It visually is a stunning venue, but you have no idea what kind of audience you are going to get. Did they really expect the people who paid thousands of dollars for the box seats to be that involved while eating their olives and brie? You also have the snobby LA fan factor. There are many LA concert goers that refuse to get involved in a concert. It's very much a be there to be seen kind of mind set. Third, (again) it was hotter than most Los Angeleans are used to. All that lead to an audience that wasn't going to go all out even if they were going to be in a concert film.

[I'm pretty sure if you are ever going to shoot a concert film you have to shoot it overseas. They go apeshit over there simply because when a US band perform over there it's a once in a lifetime thing. How can you not go crazy?]

Anyway, all this led to Wayne Coyne wasting time before and after every song with requests that eventually became begging pleads for the audience to stand up and get involved. In LA? At the Bowl? In this heat? Not going to happen.

Still as a spectacle it was highly entertaining. You had your dancing santas and aliens. You had Wayne in the bubble. There were the mermaids/aliens? in body paint wandering the venue. There were numerous giant white balloons released during the first song, "Race for the Prize." They passed out glowing necklaces that Wayne then asked the audience to throw at him during "Yoshima Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 2." You also had numerous cannon shots of confetti covering the crowd. All this to say that while it was all visually fantastic (There's nothing like seeing thousands of glowing necklaces flying through the air) it was all maybe too much. When the giant balloons were released, more people where enthralled by knocking them around than the band performing on stage. It had me wondering: Where's that line in which the spectacle overshadow the music? I realize that The Flaming Lips have become this merger of visual set pieces and their music, but were more people there to see Coyne walk across the crowd in a bubble or hear the song that accompanies that visual? As a self admitted music snob, I would have gladly sacrificed some visuals if it meant more than a 10 song set. The kid in me did appreciate the eye candy at moments. Particularly, once the sun set and the crowd got involved which was right around the encore.

In fact, it was that encore of "War Pigs" that saved the show for me, and had me feeling happy and entertained as I was herded along with the mass exodus. Driving home, though after the glow wore off, I was wondering if "War Pigs" was simply an indication of how good the show could have been. It seems that last night I simply got a taste of how fantastic a Flaming Lips concert could be.


Jaime said...

I don't know anything about the Flaming Lips, but I do know I got way too much pleasure hearing someone as dignified as Linda Wertheimer on NPR say their name during an interview a few months ago.

MOL Junior said...

i read an article with wayne coyne where he said he plans to pass out remote controlled underwear at his concerts. sorry you had to settle for a glowstick bradford.