Can you see me smiling through the screen as you read these words? That’s because I’m still on a high from the Flaming Lips show Monday night at Mtelus. Have you ever attended a kid’s birthday party on psychedelics? Well, aside from that being wildly inappropriate it is the best way I could describe a Flaming Lips show. Massive technicolour balloons exploding into showers of glittering confetti, neon laser lights, emanating above, around and even through the crowd, a giant inflatable pink robot, frontman Wayne Coyne striding through the crowd on a fucking unicorn! I haven’t even begun to talk about the music!
Le Butcherettes foreshadowed the kind of eccentric night we were all in for with a bizarre, high energy opening set. Frontwoman Teri Gender Bender aggressively pounded on her keyboards, as if it were the only way for it to make sounds adequate to match her hyperactive dance moves and the entire band’s fervent punk rock energy. Gender Bender sang in both English and Mexican, her high pitched, merciless vocals call to mind Siouxsie Sioux of Siouxsie and the Banshees. Le Butcherettes played a varied set, showcasing songs from each of their three full-length releases; not exactly an easy feat when playing a brief opening set. “My Mallely,” “Burn the Scab,” and “Stab My Back” cascaded over the crowd like a can of mace. But it was their cover of Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” that ultimately brought the house down; Gender Bender’s “slightly” more aggressive interpretation of the original sent shock waves through my skull.
And now we need to take some time to pay our respects to The Flaming Lips, who have been together for over thirty years now and continue to bring out a performance that in my opinion is the most uplifting, free-spirited and awe-inspiring live concert you can attend. Wayne Coyne takes the stage like a master of ceremonies and literally wills the crowd into a state of unmitigated ecstasy. The Flaming Lips erupted into “Race For The Prize” as smoke shot across the stage and balloons danced above the crowd’s fingertips. For “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt.1,” Coyne stood under an inflatable pink robot and went on to explain how the song was about a friend who was undertaking an impossible task and how it was important to encourage them regardless. Few bands if any, better capture the human condition in their songs than The Flaming Lips! I’ll also point out that for a band with such a vast catalogue of songs, their primary focus seems to be to play the hits. While the diehard fans may long to hear a few of the deeper cuts, it was such a satisfying set and you can’t fault them. After tearing through “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song (With All Your Power)” and “The Castle,” Coyne mounted a fucking unicorn and showered the crowd in glitter as The Flaming Lips played “There Should Be Unicorns.”
The climactic moment of the set was a beautiful tribute to the late David Bowie. Coyne entered a giant inflatable bubble and crawled on top of the crowd (if you haven’t seen him do this live check it out here) and proceeded to belt out an absolutely beautiful version of “Space Oddity.” Coyne, realizing that the show was in the home stretch, pleaded with the crowd to get as loud as they possibly could and managed to squeeze every ounce of noise and energy from the mass of people. The Flaming Lips ended on “Do You Realize??,” one of the most iconic songs of the 00’s and a personal favourite of mine that uplifts and induces melancholy within your soul at the exact same time. The Flaming Lips don’t just put on a show, it’s a ceremony of life, an affirmation of all that is beautiful! Thank fucking God for The Flaming Lips!
Written by Lee Ferguson
Photography by Thomas Gentil
*edited by Mike Milito