The Flaming Lips are throwing a free “costume party” Friday for 10,000 of their closest friends and biggest fans to celebrate Halloween, New Year's Eve and the end of an era at the Zoo Amphitheatre, all rolled into one big “Freak Night.”
Don't miss out, because there'll be no Lips-led “March of 1,000 Flaming Skeletons” this year, no Oklahoma City New Year's Eve Freakout, and it's the last Zoo show under the auspices of Innervisions and Facilities Management Group, which have operated the outdoor venue and booked its shows for the last decade.
“You get this feeling that the Zoo — this time that the Zoo has had where you go out there every summer until the middle of October and see a lot of cool shows — that could be over,” said Lips leader Wayne Coyne.
In June, the Oklahoma City Zoo Trust unanimously approved negotiating a contract with another company, 3Horse Productions, to take over operations of the amphitheater. It's uncertain what kinds of shows the new management will be bringing in.
“We want to thank the public by having this free show,” said Howard Pollack, president of Innervisions and Facilities Management Group. “We're paying the expenses to make sure the show is free, make sure we do our thank-yous to our audience for being loyal fans for so many years. I'm upset about losing the contract, but behind every door that closes opens a new one, so we'll see what happens in the future.”
Innervisions will continue to bring shows to various venues across the state, including a Nov. 8 Aerosmith concert at Chesapeake Energy Arena and events at various indoor and outdoor locations, with plans under way to open an amphitheater in May near Siloam Springs, Ark.
“And we'll see what happens in Oklahoma City,” Pollack said. “We ain't goin' nowhere, and we're doing a lot of shows at the casinos as well. We do probably in excess of about five, six hundred shows a year at the casinos.”
Meanwhile, “Freak Night” will be the Flaming Lips' last Oklahoma show in 2012 because they're worried about wearing out their welcome at home. They performed two shows last New Year's in Oklahoma City (one with Yoko Ono) and one in Tulsa in March as part of an all-star concert celebrating the 100th birthday of Woody Guthrie.
“You know, we'd been lookin' to do something at the Zoo, but since we'd been doing the New Year's Eve thing we felt like we can't really do both,” Coyne said. “... Everybody's like, ‘Well, I just saw them.'
“And sometimes I think the parade and the New Year's Eve shows, you know, it's a lot to do every year (at home).”
The Lips have already done a lot more than most bands this year, including releasing an album of duets (“The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends”) featuring Ke$ha, Nick Cave, Bon Iver and others; performing at Stephen Colbert's “StePhest Colbchella '012 RocktAugustFest” at New York's Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum; and nabbing the Guinness World Records title for a musical act performing the most live concerts in the most cities (eight) in a 24-hour period.
And that's just a partial list.
“I don't know if we're in (the Guinness Book) yet,” Coyne said.
“It'll be amazing when we see it and hold it and all that, and you can talk to 10-year-old kids who've seen you in there. But that's part of the fantastical appeal of those sorts of things. It's just absurd. You know, you're in there with the world's fattest man and the world's longest watermelon spitting contest. There are all these absurd things, and then the Flaming Lips play eight shows in 24 hours. It's meant to be just another absurd thing that we've done.”
But the Lips find time to do beautiful things, too, when it comes to making music, and in between all those wildly experimental duets with “fwends,” the band has been creating a new collection of songs that may well stand alongside “The Soft Bulletin” (1999) and “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” (2002) as another masterpiece of alternative popcraft.
“It's a strange, powerful, emotional, devastating record,” Coyne said of the album, due out next year. “In that way, I mean those are impossible records to make 'cause you don't know how to make them. They either happen or they don't, you know?
“And then a good bit of the record, I really have a hard time listening to, because it's so, it's so internal, it's so emotional. So yeah, I think people will hear it, and I think it'll be one of those records that, you know, as years go by, I think people will be so attached to it in an eerie way. I think it's a new, it's yet another version of the Flaming Lips, which we weren't intending, really, to do.
“And I think this music that we made was simply made from our subconscious more than anything else. It was just some desire and some longing to be in this other atmosphere. ... And now when I hear it I can't listen to it without it having a lot of psychic effect on me.”
Whether the Flaming Lips will share any of this mind-bending newness on Friday night remains to be heard, but Coyne promises a good time for all at the event that's being billed as “the largest costume party in the Midwest.”
“We wanna do a big crazy party up there,” he said. “We're gonna have Stardeath and White Dwarfs and our friends New Fumes play. Everybody'll dress up. Someone'll pass out some drugs — it won't be me — but there'll be some drug fun goin' on, and it'll be another crazy evening with the Flaming Lips and their friends, you know?”
Will it be as good as 2006's legendary “U.F.O.s at the Zoo”?
“I think that show might still stand as our greatest show that we've ever done. There's some magic that happens that you can't even know why it happened or how to ever do it again.”
But the Lips will try.