The Flaming Lips know how to kick off a show. Frontman Wayne Coyne said, "C'mon, motherfuckers. Let's fuckin' do this." Then, he climbed into a giant inflatable hamster ball and walked out into the crowd. He arrived back on stage, and suddenly, everything exploded.
The Lips open their shows the way most bands end theirs, and from that point on, they had the audience in the palm of its collective hand. The first three numbers were from the band's latest, Embryonic, and gained warmth that was somewhat lacking on the album. "Silver Trembling Hands," in particular, seemed to reach out all the way to the back of the seats, overcoming the claustrophobic atmosphere created on record.
Of course, while received well, the first big collective "woo!" of recognition came when the band kicked into "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song," introducing it by way of the "relief at Barack Obama" Coyne felt. From that point on, the band mixed crowd favorites like "She Don't Use Jelly" and "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" with songs from Embryonic. "She Don't Use Jelly" was a crowd sing-along -- granted, most of the tunes involved audience participation, including when drummer Kliph Scurlock took the mic to do all the animal sounds from "I Can Be A Frog."
For all of the crazy, band-created lights and confetti, the show was most enhanced by nature itself. A band as organic as the Flaming Lips is especially suited to playing out of doors, where their sound can expand and wash over the audience, and that experience was complemented by the storm clouds off to the north. Lightning among the clouds was like an extra light show, especially when it seemed to sync up with "Powerless," a song with particularly thunderous drums. As Coyne put it, "it turned out to be a perfect night."
Silver Trembling Hands
The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song
In The Morning Of The Magicians
She Don't Use Jelly
I Can Be a Frog
Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, Pt. 1
See The Leaves
Pompeii Am Götterdämmerung
Convinced Of The Hex
Brain Damage (Pink Floyd cover)
Eclipse (Pink Floyd cover)
Do You Realize??
The Dead Weather were playing something of a one-off show with the Lips. The two bands aren't touring together, and it showed. While the band is fantastically dirrrrrrrty rock 'n' roll, the Dead Weather is not a band suited to playing outside, and especially not one that goes on at dusk. They are an inside, after-dark kind of act. The garage rock variant played by the band needs something off of which to bounce its sound. Unlike the Flaming Lips, this is not a band for whom outdoor venues work. Singer Alison Mosshart played well to the crowd, making the show more intimate than it would've otherwise been. As their set went on, the vocals became buried in the mix, with Mosshart and White's voices either wailing or muffled, but rarely balanced as they should've been. The minimalistic lighting was another aspect that worked against the act, as the dark blue made it nearly impossible to discern the figures on stage after sundown, especially as the white lights were focused outward, blinding the hell out of the audience. All in all, the impression one was left with at the end of the Dead Weather's set was a band that, while talented and entertaining, and well worth seeing again, was simply not suited to the venue in which they were seen.
About halfway through Minus the Bear's set, I had a sudden realization, and remembered why I don't own any of their albums. Frontman Jake Snider sounds a lot like Phil Collins. Also, the band's math rock has a funk edge that makes them suspiciously jammy. Their drummer, Erin Tate, is a monster, but the band's angular sound just didn't grab me the way it did the rest of the audience. I can see that they're a talented act, and a number of people in the audience were obviously there to see them, but nothing about the band really held my attention for very long.
With the exception of a few people who were slightly distraught at not being able to take to the lawn for hula-hooping and assorted other shenanigans, the crowd was excited and entertained the whole show. It may have been the cloud of marijuana smoke (discernable even to the Flaming Lips' Steven Drozd, who commented early in the band's set, "I smell a bunch of pot being smoked up front."), or the massive amount of tailgating before the show, but everyone seemed up for anything.
How do I know? I think the young woman I overheard on the way to the restroom summed it up best: "I don't even know who they are are, and I'm not wearing panties."