As Wayne Coyne held the teeming masses in his giant, laser-shooting prosthetic hands at the Flaming Lips' Friday night concert at the Zoo Amphitheatre, he and the band proved that there is no such thing as “just another Flaming Lips concert.” The free show will likely stand out in fans' minds for the awe-inspiring visuals and Coyne's emotional performance, but also because this band was tight, completely in control and performing as if they are ready to ascend to a new level.
After opening sets by New Fumes and Stardeath and White Dwarfs, which performed a stunning cover of the title track of King Crimson's “In the Court of the Crimson King,” Howard Pollack of Innervisions took the stage. This was the final show produced by Innervisions at the Zoo Amphitheatre, a venue that Pollack first began managing and promoting in 1978, and before the Lips performed, Pollack invited his staff and family on stage to thank them, and the audience, for their support.
But then, as crew members put the final touches on the Lips' setup and readied the confetti cannons, Pollack returned to the stage, with Coyne, and told the audience there were no barriers, no pass checks and no reason to stay back on the green. This would not be a concert — this was going to be a party. And with that, people packed into the pit at the lip of the stage as guitarists Derek Brown and Steven Drozd, bassist Michael Ivins and drummer Kliph Scurlock, all wearing Halloween makeup, each peeled back the fiber-optic curtain hanging in front of their equipment and greeted the audience. The crowd-surfing began almost immediately as the audience surged forward.
Then came Coyne's traditional entrance in his inflatable “hamster ball.” But as Coyne rolled over the audience, he was joined by a half-nude woman in her own inflatable bubble, the two enthusiastic exhibitionists rolling and bouncing against one another before returning to the stage. It was a new twist on a reliably exciting event in Flaming Lips concerts, and it was the first of many instances in which the Lips visibly and audibly changed their game.