PARTY IN THE PARK feat. Flaming Lips w/ Young the Giant and AWOLNATION
Words by Jakob Ross, Videos by Jakob and Scott Ross
Throughout the past decade or so, one band has been singled out as the greatest live band of all time. Not Foo Fighters, not Rolling Stones, and not Cage the Elephant; I’m talking about The Flaming Lips.
The psychedelic/indie-space group who hail from Oklahoma have built up a reputation as a must-see band, either at festivals or at their own headlining gigs.
You’re probably thinking: “Jakob, they can’t possibly be that great. I mean, it’s not like the singer has giant hands that shoot lasers at a disco ball or anything.”
Anyway, before I get into how over-the-top amazing Flaming Lips were, let me backtrack a few hours.
Driving to Atlanta was hellish. Due to two straight hours of traffic on I-20, we were forced to miss the first two bands of the radio-sponsored festival, Atlanta-natives Ponderosa and LA-based folk band Dawes, the latter of which I was actually excited about. And to make matters worse, we weren’t allowed to bring our backpack into the park (my dad and I planned on dressing up as Captain America and Jesus, respectively, and our costumes were in that backpack). All setbacks aside, we were ready to kick it with three great bands.
We made our way towards the front of the pit as the stage was being set for AWOLNATION, the solo-sideproject of former Under the Influence of Giants frontman Aaron Bruno. Not being very familiar with AWOLNATION’s body of work (a.k.a. their 2011 debut) I’m not quite sure what songs they played or what order they were played in. I can tell you that Aaron Bruno is a great frontman.
It’s not an AWOLNATION show without hearing their first hit Sail and their most recent hit Not Your Fault, both of which were a part of the setlist. But what was the biggest surprise for me was hearing the breakdown of Rage Against the Machine’s debut album-closer Freedom somehow make it into the setlist. It was unexpected and for all I know I was the only person who actually knew the song, but it was still a very cool addition.
Despite having to deal with annoying crowd-surfers (seriously, crowd-surfing is the most annoying concert tradition, and I invite all of you who find joy in it to stop doing it), it was a fantastic show from Aaron and co.
Next up would be alternative rock group Young the Giant, whom I would be seeing for the second time. The first time I saw them was from the top of an arena, but this time I would be up close and personal with YTG. Although they’ve just come off a European tour and a North American tour that featured GROUPLOVE, Young the Giant showed no signs of fatigue whatsoever. They played a great set with songs that seemed chilled out at first, but would then climax into an energetic explosion. (Notice singer Sameer Gadhia’s A Clockwork Orange shirt.)
It was obvious that most of the crowd (including myself) was only familiar with their songs Cough Syrup and the set-closing My Body, but that didn’t stop us from being wowed by Young the Giant. Even the new songs they played (their new album is expected to be released in Spring 2013) sounded pretty cool.
At around 8:15, Young the Giant left the stage to cheering applause and screaming guitar feedback, leaving exactly one hour for all the crewmen and women to set up the stage for the Flaming Lips.
Despite little-to-no mainstream success, the Grammy-winning Flaming Lips have developed a cult-like status and a strong fan-base. And the music’s not bad either: be it their 1993 major-label smash Transmissions from the Satellite Heart, their 1998 masterpiece and cult-favorite The Soft Bulletin, their 2002 sci-fi inspired concept album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, or their daring tribute to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon; the music is just awesome.
And all of the above albums were played to some extent during the show. From the first notes of Sweet Leaf to the final moments of Do You Realize??, every member of the band was at the top of their game. At the beginning, a video screen depicted a women giving birth to the members of the band (each band member except for lead singer Wayne Coyne came out of a door on the screen to signify childbirth) and an object was removed to reveal Coyne in his now very recognizable bubble that he gets inside to walk on the audience.
Lights. Colors. Balloons. Confetti. Bubbles. Music. Distortion. Feedback. The Lips just absolutely killed in every way, shape, and form. And that’s an understatement. It was perfect, magical, phenomenal, emotional, a religious experience. They played every song you hoped they would play, including Brain Damage/Eclipse, the last two songs on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, with indie-pop group Phantogram.
If you’ve never seen this band before, then I feel bad for you. No YouTube video could ever capture the magic of a Flaming Lips show.
Flaming Lips Setlist:
Sweet Leaf (Black Sabbath cover)
She Don’t Use Jelly
The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song
Is David Bowie Dying??
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part 1
See the Leaves
Pompeii Am Gotterdammerung
What is the Light?
Brain Damage/Eclipse (Pink Floyd cover) (w/ Phantogram)
Do You Realize??