Last Night: The Flaming Lips with Ghostland Observatory and Stardeath and White Dwarfs at the Fox Theater in Pomona
Better Than: Setting off a school fire alarm.
Download: The Flaming Lips new album, Embryonic (then buy it).
Flexing their ability to host an increasingly daring line up of national acts that trade in mind blowing special effects and bold sonic arts, The Fox theater in Pomona set an astonishing new precedent with last night's Flaming Lips gig. Actually, several precedents. For one, this is probably the most difficult/best live show they've had to pull off. Second, I'm pretty sure they've never had so many fans come to a show wearing plush, forest animal costumes. And finally, I don't think they've had a band rock hard enough to set off the fire alarm. In the end, all these things and more made for a banner evening in good ole' P-town.
Starting the night off was a fog-filled set by Deathstar and White Dwarf of Oklahoma (you may/may not now thier lead singer, Dennis Coyne, nephew of The Flaming Lips front man Wayne Coyne). As fans filtered into the dark theater, waves of smoke sprawled upwards to kiss the newly refurbiushed 1920s chandeliers. Brushed with indie phycedelics with a pop twist, DWD was busy unleashing a clever cover of Madonna's hit "Borderlines" as the milky mist continued to hot box the venue. Currently on tour with The Flaming Lips, DWD's live show has surely been elevated since their first EP release in '05 helped of course by synth drenched pop of their latest material from their '09 full lengthThe Birth.
In the heart of the packed main floor, a flood of enthused Ghostland Observatory fans decended closer to the stage as the band rolled in as the secod act before the headliner. Good luck trying to get through that crowd. Most were content to cradle cups of icy booze as yet another wave of fog and lasers enveloped the stage. As the two-man team of Thomas Turner and Aaron Behrens lurked on stage (Turner with a golden cape and Behrens sporting black morpheous shades), their cult following errupted as electronic beats and throaty howls took flight. And while two guys spazzaming on stage might not seem that compelling all on it's own, the state of the art sound and lights at the Fox sure made that shit look incredible.
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Songs like "Midnight Voyage" and "Heavy Heart" plumed energy over Behrens faux Freddy Mercury vocals. Though to be honest, the harder they tried on stage, the more the band became outshined by the laser show which by the end of their last song "Richman" had reached Planetarium status. But I guess when you're trying to open up for The Flaming Lips, that shit is bound to happen.
But still, as GO ended their set, you could feel the swell of anxiousness coming from whispering and squaking fans of this legendary psycedelic folk act over two decades in the making. Even as Wayne Coyne popped on and off stage during set up to assist his crew and receieved round after round of applause, the band still knew how to make an entrance. And we all know that there's no bigger way to make an entrance than through the shining light of a woman's vagina. Yes, you read that right. Through the back of TFL's giant digital TV screen backdrop, the band entered the stage through the zoomed in shot of a heavenly birth canal. And as the roar of the crowd became deafening Coyne himself came from the side of the stage in his trademark runner bubble to roll around feverishly in the crowd.
From start to finish, the band lived up to every iota of their potential. Whether it was inciting the crowd to shout the lyrics of classics like "She Don't Use Jelly" and the "Yeah Yeah Yeah Song", or when Coyne had the entire audience cover him with dots from laser pointers handed out before the show, the band could do no wrong. Well, except during one of Coyne's fiery stunts involving some flares and a bull horn that set of the Fox's fire alarm and caused the stage to momentarily lose power. Even then, it only added to the warmth and joy that emanated from songs like "Fight Test", "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" and the orgy or confetti, balloons and light during their hit "Do You Realize". As the show came to a glorious close around midnight, trails of smiling concert goers affirmed the Fox's final and most important precedent of the night: the ability to pull of a set by rock's most imaginative live band and being responsible for the best Tuesday night of the summer of 2009.
Check out the slide show HERE.