With an hour to go before their scheduled performance time, Wayne and co. entered the stage and announced that they would be doing their “sound check.” As it turns out, that’s code for a full performance of “War Pigs” to treat those who would wind up waiting hours to see one of the world’s greatest live bands.
Just under the hour-to-go mark, the Lips’ manager and a few costume-clad assistants handed out boxes full of laser pens with instructions to pass them around, but save the battery. About 45 minutes into their set, Wayne called for us to all point our lasers at him. For a while he sang, illuminated only by our collective dots, but then he pulled out a giant mirror and focused our efforts back on ourselves.
That’s a pretty good example of the spirit behind the Lips’ live show. For all their dancing Santas, giant balloons and strobe light / smoking megaphone combos, the group are only channeling our excitement into palpable form and feeding it right back too us. The Flaming Lips both create and feed off of their fan’s excitement to the point where they become one of the most audience-involving bands I’ve ever seen. Both “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” and “She Don’t Use Jelly” ended in slowed-down sing-a-longs, and between the laser pens and dozens of giant balloons, there was always something for us to do with our hands.
For their two plus hours on stage, the Flaming Lips gave the tens of thousands in attendence something more than the must see moment of Bonnaroo (which it was). Their performance was the kind of thing that stays with you until you’re able to see them again. It was like one transcendental moment stretched out over an entire night.
Thank you, Flaming Lips.