A fantastic group of weirdos from Oklahoma are back in Aspen again. Wayne Coyne and the Flaming Lips have returned to put on yet another performance that may leave you questioning reality and the existence of unicorns, and – if you’re like me – wondering why you didn’t follow that rock ’n’ roll dream.
Every Flaming Lips show is an oddity of its own, but a giant Wayne Coyne-filled space balloon is to be expected. Although the band is revered by fans for their attention to full-length albums, they are well known for otherworldly shows, far closer to performance art than your average rock concert. Coyne has been called their chief conceptualizer, as each performance requires an immense imagination to produce. The actual music has its own cult following, but a live Flaming Lips show is comparable to no other.
Along with the various spectacles that should not be spoiled, a plastic orb with the frontman singing inside it is a given for most Flaming Lips shows. It’s become such a staple that Coyne and his new wife, Katy Weaver, were married in January inside the bubble. Typically, Coyne is found traveling across the crowd in his orb or being lowered from the sky by wires, yet it has been a long, strange trip up to this point.
Wayne tells that some of the members, himself included, weren’t very skilled musicians when they formed in 1983. They got by on creativity and imagination rather than pure musical talent. The frontman recalls, “None of us could play the piano per se, but the three of us together could grab a piece of the piano and say, ‘You hit that. I hit this.’ We’d practice it enough to know it when we’d record it to get one take down.”
That unique and resourceful approach eventually earned them a record deal with Warner Bros. in 1991. Yet even during those earlier recordings, the ever-changing group felt like amateurs. Coyne said that when the label sent their A&R team to sit in, “we always thought they would give us some pointers of what we were doing wrong and what we should do to make it better. They’d be sitting in the studio listening and loving it. I’d be like, ‘Come on! What do you mean you love it? You’ve gotta f---ing help us.’”
Obviously, The Flaming Lips eventually found their rhythm and confidence in producing the psychedelic tunes they are known for. Their intense devotion to experimentation and musical exploration is what has led them to the present. It’s difficult to logically explain their approach, yet Coyne does so in ways only he could. “By the time we did something like ‘The Soft Bulletin,’ that’s me totally saying, ‘I’m going to be this character who’s like this worldly pirate from outer space who’s bringing this message of love,’ and that would just be me. And as time went on, I just said, ‘F--- it, I’ll just be that dude!'”
That worldly pirate and his band of aliens have continued to evolve and progress since their inception 36 years ago. Their most recent album, aside from the greatest hits and studio remasters, brought the Flaming Lips back to the limelight. Coyne said that “Oczy Mlody,” released in 2017, “sounds like Syd Barrett meets A$AP Rocky and they get trapped in a fairy tale from the future.” In an attempt to stray from the rock-band connotation, the group explored an entirely new style. “Oczy Mlody” merges emotions across the gamut with an imaginary land home to unicorns and frogs.
The Flaming Lips will be performing at the Belly Up this Saturday. They will be joined by Particle Kid, who begin at 9:00 p.m.