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Saturday, January 3, 2015

Live Review: A Psychedelic NYE with The Flaming Lips at The Warfield

Posted By on Sat, Jan 3, 2015 at 2:04 AM

  • Christopher Victorio
The Flaming Lips
Dec. 31, 2014
The Warfield

There are few live music experiences that can rival that of The Flaming Lips. The band, led by eccentric frontman Wayne Coyne, have never been shy on theatrics, and New Year’s Eve at The Warfield was the most extravagant, comprehensive, and trippy party in San Francisco.

Early arrivers were treated to an opening set from retro-rockers Foxygen, followed by a stunning performance from the electro-rock band Phantogram. Singer Sarah Barthel came out wearing a sensual half-silver/half-see-thru striped leotard under a sequined jacket as the band began with “Nothing But Trouble,” the opening song off of 2014’s Voices.

  • Adrian Spinelli
By the time Phantogram played crowd-favorite "Black Out Days" the vibe for the night was setting in: Lights hanging from the stage, bubbles in the air and a cosmic light show during “Don’t Move,” were merely foreshadowing the shape of things to come with The Flaming Lips.

Decked out in shiny pants with a collage of fluff-balls over his crotch, his signature scraggly hair and a light up necklace, Wayne Coyne stepped out to address the crowd. He lauded the crew at The Warfield for setting up the veritable wonderland of props and decorations and told the crowd about a couple who got engaged on stage the night before. In the heat of the celebratory moment, the ring, symbolizing their intended union, was flung from the stage. The crew searched under the pile of confetti on the venue floor until 3:30 a.m. to no avail. But the following morning, drummer Nick Ley miraculously found the ring laying beside his drum set on the stage. Coyne was clearly affected by the serendipitous turn of events and felt compelled to share his emotion with the evening’s revelers and it built an aura of joy and mystique. 
  • Adrian Spinelli

As a flutter of confetti cleared, people in a rainbow and mushroom outfits flanked Coyne on stage and the band burst into the song that put them on the map back in 1993, “She Don’t Use Jelly.” Guitarist Steven Drozd, one of the most criminally underrated figures in music, was absolutely shredding on the guitar and flawlessly managing keyboards as well. 

The mushrooms and rainbows were replaced by massive caterpillars and the band coursed into “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots.” As the song ended, Wayne prepped the crowd with "We’re gonna stop this just before midnight so we can get ready...cause this is gonna be the best coolest, most fucked up party the world has ever known!"

The vibe hit a high point that the night never came down from and represented a shift for the Lips who were coming out of one of their darkest periods as a band. Wayne Coyne went through a messy divorce, Steven Drozd suffered a relapse with his heroin addiction and Coyne fired drummer Kliph Scurlock after a messy and public exchange of words. But as Drozd proved himself to be ever the musical wizard on “Feeling Yourself Disintegrate,” Coyne sang to the crowd with an ear-to-ear grin as the confetti started flowing again and you just got the feeling that The Flaming Lips were exploding out of their dark phase. 
  • Adrian Spinelli

A massive mirrored ball was lowered onto the stage and Coyne acted as it’s conductor of light, gracing his arms back and forth as it sparkled towards the crowd. He was like a psychedelic shaman, wanting his audience to be as happy as possible and forget about their woes as the beautifully uplifting “Psychiatric Explorations Of The Fetus With Needles”, from 1995’s Clouds Taste Metallic, rang through the venue.

A Beatles revue of tracks off the Lips’ recent tribute album With A Little Help From My Fwends saw people in inflatable Mr.Toad and Santa Claus costumes hit the stage, along with members of Foxygen and Phantogram for “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “She’s Leaving Home,” and “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.”

The journey into psychedelia continued. Ten minutes before midnight, shortly before embarking on to “The Terror,” (the most poignant song from the aforementioned “dark period” for the band) Coyne proclaimed: "We're gonna do this song and then get ready! It’s kind if a bummer song. But fuck it. These people understand life!" 
  • Christopher Victorio

Tension was building for the ball drop and Coyne brought up the spirituality of the “miracle” with the wedding ring again. In calculated fashion, the band played “Race For The Prize” off of 1999’s legendary The Soft Bulletin as the clock struck midnight. We kissed, we hugged and we laughed as gallons of confetti were dropped along with hundreds of weather balloons. The sea of confetti was so thick that we didn’t even have to try to catch it, as millions of flecks landed on everyone. Balloons were everywhere and everyone quested for their chance to bounce one back up into the air.

Eventually, Wayne came out in his notorious plastic bubble and walked through the elated crowd. He rolled his way back on stage, got out of the ball and exited stage left. Ever the gentleman, Coyne came back out to greet everyone and shout "The party begins!"

A memorable encore performance of “Do You Realize??” ended the enchanting evening with Coyne spinning a lit rope like a lasso, just one of the many light props he held throughout the night. The song itself, is one of the most honest expressions of love and adoration for all living beings and everyone in the house was feeling exactly that from the Lips.

"The night is just beginning!" Coyne said as he left the stage for good at 12:40 and as the millions of confetti flecks settled on the floor, we walked out into the night to a new year. Happy 2015!
  • Christopher Victorio

The Abandoned Hospital Ship
She Don't Use Jelly
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1
The Golden Path (Chemical Brothers cover)
Feeling Yourself Disintegrate
Psychiatric Explorations of the Fetus With Needles
She's Leaving Home (The Beatles cover) (with Phantogram)
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) (The Beatles cover) (with Foxygen) (Played twice in a row at Wayne Coyne's request)
Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds (The Beatles cover)
The Terror
Race for the Prize (With New Year's Eve Countdown)
Vein of Stars
When You Smile (First performance since 2000)
Kim's Watermelon Gun (Live Debut)

Do You Realize??

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About The Author

Adrian Spinelli

Adrian Spinelli

Hip hop and sandwiches.


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