The Flaming Lips/Tame Impala – Terminal 5 – October 1, 2013
The fantastic double bill of Australian psychedelic outfit Tame Impala and the Flaming Lips, those wacky weirdos from Oklahoma City, has been dubbed the Peace and Paranoia tour. During the first of two sold-out shows at Terminal 5 last night, the groups effectively evoked these dissimilar sensations in their sets, with the mellow grooves of Tame Impala’s “Elephant” and “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” providing a peaceful start to the night, including just enough trippy-ness to ease the transition into the ensuing over-the-top theatrics of the Flaming Lips.
Witnessing the stage set come together for the Flaming Lips’ performance can be considered a show in itself—mirrored domes and thick strands of white lights evoking giant spaghetti were piled onstage in excess, as Wayne Coyne, frontman and master of ceremonies, clad in a metallic blue suit, took his place behind the microphone, mounted atop a bulbous silver platform. Performing in support of their most recent record, The Terror, which covers some intense thematic territory and has a dark sound to back it up, the Flaming Lips paired opening songs “Look … the Sun Is Rising” and “The Terror” with a disorienting barrage of strobe lights, confetti, video art and a heavy layer of smoke: an aesthetic ethos of more is more. A lesser band might have used this type of sensory overload to mask a lack of substance, but the Flaming Lips’ music is interesting and complex enough to stand on its own—it just so happens to be much more fun with a throbbing image of an eyeball in the background.
By the end of the night, the Flaming Lips delivered the sense of paranoia promised in the tour’s title, but even they couldn’t resist leaving us on a lighter note. During the final moments of “A Spoonful Weighs a Ton,” a new image appeared across their screen, simple block letters flashing the word “LOVE.” As the smoke cleared and onlookers shook confetti from their hair, a powerful message remained. —Alena Kastin