I know what you're thinking, and I'm not going to tell you that you have a dirty mind because you don't. You know the Flaming Lips well enough to know what I'm talking about, and if you've seen them live there's a chance that you, too, have touched Wayne Coyne's ball. I'm sure you enjoyed it, and I did as well. I was thrilled to be in ball-touching range, and when Wayne was close, I reached both hands up as high as they would go, hoping to get a solid grasp on the ball and push it with every ounce of energy I had. I wasn't alone in this; at any given time there were probably five or ten or fifteen people touching the ball, and seeing it float across the sea of hands (how many times has this metaphor been used?) is pretty awesome.
Has any other band you've seen live introduced their set by having the singer/frontman/important guy walk across the crowd in a giant inflatable sphere? I don't think so, though for all I know bands in North Korea do this all the time but we never hear about it because revelation of knowledge of such western cultural influences would be extremely dangerous to the population unfortunate enough to be subjected to such tyrannical government.
There's a lot more we certainly don't hear about, but this is not the place, nor am I the appropriate vehicle, to enlighten you about it. What I can tell you is that despite playing at a festival sponsored by the drink no one's had since sophomore year of college when it was all you could get, and sharing the stage with such compatible bands as the Sick Puppies and Cowboy Mouth (who are from New Orleans, in case you also got there early and were put through the slow torture of their loudmouth hick-rock and happened to miss every one of the hundred or so times they mentioned their hometown), the Flaming Lips manage to turn a simple concert into an experience that you get to share with 10,000+ hipsters and 5 or 6 non-hipsters on a beautiful Wisconsin summer night. Let's go over the list:
1. Wayne Coyne's ball - check.
2. Confetti cannons - check.
3. Small inflatable balls and balloons - check.
4. Santa Claus (x8 - that's how he does it!) on stage - check.
5. Aliens wearing dresses (stylish!) on stage - check.
6. Crowd people dressed like aliens and Santa Claus - check.
7. Giant light screen projecting image from a tiny camera mostly pointed at Wayne - check.
8. Singalongs for "Race for the Prize", "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots", "Yeah Yeah Yeah Song," and "She Don't Use Jelly" - check.
9. The smell of weed coming from every direction - check.
I don't know about you, but I'd say that a package like that would be worth $40, maybe $50. Thanks to the fine folks at Southern Comfort, though, it was free. FREE!
Wayne went off on how all the crowd members tend to give the corporate sponsors shit (he said this when people were grabbing and popping the inflatables emblazoned with the SoCo logo--though this may be because they were oddly shaped and getting smacked in the back of the head by them didn't really hurt, but was uncomfortable), but that SoCo doesn't deserve it because they're a great sponsor to play for because they don't restrict what the bands say or do in any way, so that's pretty cool even if they make a shitty drink and put some highly questionable bands on the bill. There was also a break from the party-party atmosphere when Mr. Coyne held up a bugle and remarked that it had a speaker in it to play taps since there aren't enough musicians in the military who know how to play the song for every time a soldier dies. Hushed, and somewhat awkward silence hovered over the crowd for a few minutes until we were allowed to have fun again, and we did. Those singalongs I talked about? Yeah they were pretty awesome, and when the band let loose and played some older, rougher, songs, that was pretty awesome too. I guess the bottom line here is that this band is definitely worth seeing even if the ticket costs a small fortune, and if you live in Madison and had it offered to you for free, you should mad at how much of an idiot you are.
I didn't enjoy the show quite as much as I did when they played the Pageant in St. Louis last year, but hey, you can't expect every show you go to to be that great. This one was still awesome.
Since the ratings system was posted yesterday, it's probably a good idea to rate this show since it's the first new review you guys (this presupposes that people who don't know us directly actually stumble upon charz2k...) have an adequate frame of background information for.
2.0 Bears - The event was sponsored by SoCo and I got suckered into my driver's license being scanned for some give-away because I thought it was a security thing and not a marketing thing. Now I'm sure I'll have a lot more mail to throw away. Also, Cowboy Mouth was really really really lame. They try, which is cool, but they're sound makes me think their fanbase is secretaries who live in the Midwest and think the band is cool because they're a bit rowdier than the stuff on the easy listening station they listen to all day every day (because the guy has a loud mouth and says bad words like "asshole" and "shit"). Another increment for getting there a bit early and having to suffer through Cowboy Mouth. Oh, and $5 for parking.
4.2 Anti-bears - If you read the review, this score is pretty self-explanatory. A fun-filled and free show by a great band. And also the lines for the bathrooms after the show weren't so long that my bladder burst waiting in them.