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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Flaming Lips at Edgefield, Sat July 27

Posted by Chipp Terwilliger on Tue, Jul 30, 2013 at 9:59 AM

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About four songs into the Flaming Lips' set at Edgefield this past weekend, Wayne Coyne paused for a moment to do some math. Perched high atop his futuristic conductor's podium bursting with lights and fiber optic wires, he arrived at the conclusion that we were all indeed sharing one of the most beautiful nights of the year, a Saturday night no less, in Portland, Oregon. Once that was settled, he instantly became a bit perplexed at the audience as a whole for not being nearly fucked-up enough. Coyne urged the crowd to alter this by the time the next song ended, and then launched into the 2009 Embryonic cut, “Silver Trembling Hands,” complete with stunning background visuals, during which he really drove home the “When she’s high” refrain.

Directly following the smoke out, Coyne enlisted us showgoers for a bit of help with the next tune. He told us it was going to be a sad song, and that the band was going to need some help getting pulled up midway through it. The band then eased into a desolate, slowed down version of The Soft Bulletin classic, “Race for the Prize.” They eventually built it up, and blew it out into the explosion of noise, lights, and confetti that you might expect from a Flaming Lips’ show. It really didn't matter what sort of state you were in at that moment. The sheer energy on display was more than enough to uplift anyone in attendance. From that point on the band could do no wrong, they were in full control, and the spectacle of it all only served as a backdrop for the honest and cathartic music being played.

One of the many mid-set highlights came in the form of a cover. The band delivered a forceful and inspired rendition of Devo’s “Gates of Steel,” driven by Steven Drozd’s psych-rock guitar freakouts and Coyne’s passionate fist-pumping and epic vocals. After the song ended, Coyne gave it up big time for fellow freak flag flyers, Devo. He then gave a shout out to all the costumed freaks in attendance (with pink spandex guy getting a well deserved special shout out) and you could tell that he was genuinely touched by the enthusiasm on display at Edgefield.

The main set closed with another fan favorite off The Soft Bulletin, “A Spoonful Weighs a Ton,” and the band left the stage to the booming echo of the song’s final lyric, “Love,” being broadcast over the speakers and upon the lights display. Eventually, the stage began to show sparks, and Coyne and company returned and settled right into one of their most moving and emotional hits, the official rock song of Oklahoma, “Do You Realize??” The anthem took on a bit of a sing along, with plenty of smiles bouncing all around the amphitheater, and was followed by “Always There, In Our Hearts, the last track off this year’s release, The Terror, before the band left the stage again. The audience wasn't budging, so a second and final encore brought the set back to life again. This time the band dug all the way back to 1987 and closed the night in perfect form with “Love Yer Brain,” the final track off their second album, Oh My God!!!

Coyne’s signature human hamster ball and megaphone cheerleading act were nowhere to be found this time around. That being said, the stage-design and lighting extravaganza alone provided plenty of jaw dropping moments, and I’m pretty sure that the focused, heartfelt, and career spanning set delivered everything a Lips’ devotee could have asked for in a show. Well, almost everything, I did pass one cross-armed girl on the way out who spat out a bitter, “Yoshimi Noshimi!” as she stomped across the Edgefield lawn. I guess even The Flaming Lips can’t please everyone all the time.

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