The Flaming Lips bring back the outdoor summer concert experience (Simpsonville, SC, July 12, 2013)
“If you all could please turn around and look at this magical thing that is happening right behind you this beautiful sunset and the clouds are leaving…this is wonderful that we now get to play for all of you thanks to this magic of mother nature that just happened” explained an upbeat, soft-spoken Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne, who sounded like a modern day Willy Wonka about to take us on the trip of a lifetime.
Summer Concerts for a guy who was one day away from becoming 35 and feeling like the demographic for now (gulp) Veterans like me did not seem to have the same feel as they did many years ago. But, once I heard The Flaming Lips were coming I felt a feeling I haven’t felt in quite sometime. The thing is that I am now a season veteran of outdoor and big venue concerts. I prefer a small club where I can hear and relate to the the artist. Paying nine dollars for a beer, sweating in the sun all day and feeling like paying the 50 dollar ticket wasn’t such the best idea to see big time live outdoor music. The Flaming Lips are one of the few bands who can pull off the big crowd type of entertainment with some of the innovative, creative,weird, sights and sounds. I personally don’t wanna pay 50-100 bucks to see The Rolling Stones (not in there prime) same goes for many others with all due respect. With the The Flaming Lips you’re going to get a show and it is a show what we got.
“I don’t think we are going to make it on time” said Hannah who was on board for this quest. “Nonsense…have a little faith” I said as I watched the rain and thunder come down on what had been a wet summer so far with it raining 21 days since June the 1st. The day was hot but I felt this was suppose to happen and it was for they had a rain delay due to lighting for well over a hour. We arrived late but as always in a good show there is the “Card subject to change” and perhaps this was a gift from the weather gods for both of our birthdays for Hannahs was a few days prior on July 8 and mine being the next day on the 13th. Our arrival saw us in what seemed to be a endless carlot filled with mud and with the humidity was now long gone thanks to the storms. We found a spot to park behind the venue and begin to form a game plan in the now perfect weather as we did arrived in perfect time to witness a epic outdoor summer concert. The walk was not as near as bad as the folks who were not with the press and the lines where now as long as if it was a airport and we were all on a trip to another place. This statement would soon provide much truth.
I heard the roar of the crowd as we were getting checked in at the gate and knew we must get in the photography pit. This was my first ever professional photography gig and who better to break me in. We were let in the gate and rushed to the stage as I heard the crowd which was well in the the few thousands. The stage looked like the back of my some of my television set ups in my time with wires of all kinds overlapping, glowing, and seem to be hooked to everything and things I shall never know. After showing the lady at the stage my credentials I was throw in and the door shut behind me. It was so much to adapt to all at once for I wasn’t sure what to do but shoot pictures one after another and try make sense of this all. It was intense madness as I was now five foot away from one of my heros in Wayne Coyne and he had this space suit git up while holding what seem to be a fiber optic plastic baby with blue glowing cords reaching to the floor of the stage. The crowd was ecstatic as smoke screen covered the stage and I still can recall the smell of the stench of the dry ice smoke as the bass was so turned up I felt my rib cage rattle every time Michael Ivins would strum a bass line while wearing a big black furry russian like Hat. Again, a lot to swallow in less than five minutes but this is The Flaming Lips way.
I was snapping as fast as my camera would allow running on all cylinders for I knew I was only allowed in the pit for three songs. Running back and forth trying to get different angles and perspectives was a rush to the head. A good experience that I knew was going to be epic as I turned around an took a shot of the crowd with quite a few 5,000 or show and recalling taking a deep breath and going to remember this moment forever to be frozen in time. I don’t recall many of the songs as they were not familiar with me. I haven’t been to up to date with the groups catalog since Yoshimi battles the pink robots but did recognize a song called The W.A.N.D. in which was quite the spectacle in which Wayne waved a wand that had smoke come out from both ends in a circle while singing.
The Flaming Lips are notorious for having the strangest break thru concerts from walking on the crowd in a human sized bubble to the stage transformed into as if a spaceship have landed. This epic celebration of Hannah and myself’s birthday was a throwback to me being a kid and going to see my favorite band on a hot summer day. I have been to them all back in the such as the Lollapalooza, H.O.R.D.E., and who ever was the flavor of the month in popular music. I will still prefer the small venue types but this night with good people and the wildness that is The Flaming Lips show along with great weather will provide memories that last. That is something that money can’t buy. Chalk one up in the win column.