Throwback Thursday: The Flaming Lips’ Psychedelic Canadian Sunset at Bluesfest 2011


Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips performs at Bluesfest in 2011. Photo by Patrick Doyle/Ottawa Bluesfest/Canadian Press

Life is pretty hectic in Showboxland with festival season in full swing. So for this week’s Throwback Thursday let me take you back to Bluesfest 2011, to an article I wrote but that was never published. It was also included in my first email to Matias when I was applying to become a writer with Showbox. Here is my Flaming Lips experience.

Multi-coloured air raid sirens, smoke machines, huge balloons, confetti canons, rainbow covered gear, lead singer Wayne Coyne in a bubble walking over the crowd and a ton of people on stage dressed up as the cast of the Wizard of Oz, and that was just during the first song, “Warm Mountain.” (video below)

What can I say, it was a Flaming Lips show!

And just when you were thinking, what will these guys do next, they bring out a 12-foot tall inflatable man with a star head and a walrus man mascot to dance with the Dorothys, tin men, lions and scarecrows during “Vaseline.”
Coyne, who is always very vocal and always wanting more from the crowd and always wanting to be one with the his audience, explained why the band wrote “The Yeah Yeah Yeah song.”

“This song is so old it was written because we were frustrated at our former [US] President Bush,” said Coyne.  “We often sing and write songs mostly about things you can’t control, but singing about it makes it less scary and you feel like you have more power.  When people sing together we get a sense of all being one, we want to be one, we will sing together now to be one.”

Throughout the set, one of the members of the stage crew, hurled large balloons full of confetti at Coyne, who exploded it with the neck of his guitar. It was like watching a recreational soft ball league, but with way more confetti.
Just before the band launched into “Is David Bowie Dying?” Coyne said he had something very important to explain to the crowd. “This next song, Steven [Drozd] will not be playing his guitar, he will not be playing the keys, he will be playing his cell phone. I just don’t want you to think he is checking his ever growing Twitter account during the song.”

Coyne continued to interact with the crowd asking who was smoking “the pot,” then added “oh it must be the dudes from Edward Sharpe smoking all that.” Edward Sharpe had played earlier that day.

The Flaming Lips later launched into my favourite song “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 2,” and the crowd erupted and sang along as they had been all show.  Coyne stopped the song before the final chorus and had everyone turn around and look at the sunset, adding “Let’s make this a psychedelic Canadian summer sunset.”

Unfortunately all shows must come to an end, but it being the Flaming Lips you knew they were going to go out with a bang.  Playing the very popular “Do You Realize?” they began to unload the confetti cannons  on queue with every time Coyne sang the words “do you realize?” and to top it off  there were fireworks going off overhead. Pretty epic to say the least!