New Year’s Eve Freak-Out # 2!!!
2008 becomes 2009
"For the second year in a row, Oklahoma City will become the center of the known universe. For on this one magical night Oklahoma City is the center eye and life-giving, beating heart of all conscious bedazzlement. It will mark twice that this unequalled celestial occurrence has changed this normal Midwestern town into a cosmic holy land.”
So reads the flyer for The Flaming Lips
’ second annual New Year’s Eve concert in downtown Oklahoma City, written by freaky Lips front man Wayne Coyne
in his usual, wildly whimsical style.
And for a couple of hours Wednesday night, while the streets outside teem with Opening Night revelers, he’ll make good on his promise, turning the interior of the Cox Convention Center into a whacked-out wonderland of crossfire laser beams, booming confetti guns, great big bouncing balloons, strangely costumed dancers, a UFO light show, Wayne crowd-surfing in a giant space ball and — oh, yes — The Flaming Lips’ wondrous brand of richly melodic, lyrically visionary neo-psychedelic pop-rock.
"We’re trying to make this an annual thing, you know, like you could just think anytime you wanted, if it’s New Year’s Eve, The Flaming Lips are gonna play Oklahoma City,” Coyne said last week during a visit to The Oklahoman
and the NewsOK.com video studios.
After years of being invited to play New Year’s shows everywhere else in the world, the Lips just decided staying home for the holidays was better — and more restful. After all, Wayne only lives a couple of miles from the Cox Center.
"We did that last year, and I think it was very successful,” he said. "We didn’t really know what was going to happen or even if people would want to come and see a concert.”
The show opener again this year will be Norman-based experimental rock band Stardeath and White Dwarfs
, a band Coyne has taken a particular interest in for a couple of good reasons. He’s even helped them land a contract with Warner Bros. Records — the Lips’ home label.
"Well, they’re a great group and it just happens to be that my nephew is the singer in the group, Dennis Coyne
,” Wayne laughed. "... It sounds, what’s the word, like nepotism gone wild. But I must say in their defense ... everything that’s come their way, they deserve every bit of it, even though it may look like Dennis’ uncle is getting him everything in the world. Everything they’ve got they’ve earned on their own.”
Besides, Wayne wants the New Year’s event to be an "Oklahoma thing,” with future shows featuring other homegrown artists as opening acts.
And while he waxes lighthearted about transforming his hometown into a place of cosmic wonder for one magical night, he’s always had a serious interest in seeing some real transformations take place in the state’s cultural image and quality of life, with one priority being the development of a viable music industry here.
One giant step in that direction was the recent announcement that the University of Central Oklahoma will open the first authorized U.S. version of England’s prestigious Academy of Contemporary Music here, with Flaming Lips manager Scott Booker
as its executive director.
"This is something that me and Scott really have talked about for years,” Coyne said. "And at some point trying to get involved in the workings of trying to make Oklahoma City embrace these ideas, and Scott is really the genius behind that ... having this real building that people can go to where you can come in the doors and people say, you know, we can teach you things about the music industry that you’re not gonna be able to learn out there on your own.”
Coyne wants aspiring local artists to realize they don’t have to leave Oklahoma to succeed in their chosen creative endeavor, especially music. Best example: Oklahoma City’s own contribution to the world of brilliant musical insanity, the Flaming Lips.
"Here we are in what a lot of people think is like the heart — maybe not the heart, maybe it’s the lung — of like the Bible Belt. ... You could walk around (Bricktown) and Toby Keith has a restaurant down there. You could think it’s all sports and country music and the Bible. And, oh my God, look at this. The Flaming Lips have an alley right here in the heart of all this as well.
"So, I’m not trying to change Oklahoma City. ... I’m just trying to say that there can be another little pimple on the face of Oklahoma City, and that could be something like the Flaming Lips. Because I know for myself that there are a lot of young artists that are here as well.”
As for Wednesday’s show, Coyne has but one reservation.
"I’m especially scared with all the talk of the economy, you know, for people to go out and spend money on shows. I feel bad in a way.”
But at $20 a ticket, he shouldn’t feel bad at all. As concert prices go, it’s the best deal of the year. And fans can donate the money they save to the Salvation Army, which will be collecting at the show for OG&E’s Lend-a-Hand program, benefiting those having trouble paying their utility bills.
"I hope maybe eventually we can just even do it for free or something,” Coyne said.