More FPSF 2012 Coverage: • Summer Fest line-up reviews on the Rocks Off blog.
• Free Press Summer Fest 2012: The Sexy, Sweaty Crowds
• Popsicles and Pizza: The Food of Summer Fest
• FPSF: The Bands from Saturday
• FPSF: The Bands from Sunday
The Flaming Lips Free Press Summer Fest, Eleanor Tinsley Park June 2, 2012
It's the fashion these days for artists to revisit the classic albums of their catalog in a live setting. Metallica is doing their "Black Album" this year, 50 Cent did it at SXSW and damn, Creed is touring their first two albums as well.
But not many have tackled an album from another artist. When some bands do it, they sound like covers bands at a frat bar, or they don't get the point of the album.
Enter the Flaming Lips with their retelling of Pink Floyd's landmark album The Dark Side of the Moon, which they have been doing on the festival circuit and brought to Free Press Summer Fest Saturday night.
It's a fun trick to pull for fans, and it makes for a must-see live event, not only for the novelty of it all but for the fact that it's interesting to see a band try to reinterpret someone else's vision. The Oklahoma group's taking on Floyd seems improbable, but they have a lot in common, although the Lips aren't as paranoid and come with a sense of humor, where Floyd could be very dour.
The Lips began their set with a quick and dirty set of their own work, including "Race for the Prize," "Do You Realize?" and others before taking a quick break and beginning Moon.
The band began around 20 minutes later than scheduled due to technical issues. But the Lips even make jacking around with sound check entertaining.
There was no new material involved in their own set, which was a letdown but not unexpected. A new disc is on the way in the fall, according to lead singer Wayne Coyne. It doesn't hurt to hear the hits again, and the group's tech problems at the start perhaps cost us something new.
Coyne is very high on FPSF, saying as much from the stage halfway through their Lips cuts. The festival's freewheeling attitude fit Coyne and the band like a glove.
I will say that the Lips do a great job at Moon, but it's not the face-melting extravaganza that it has been made out to be, or at least everyone is saying. That hurts me to say since I am a big Lips fan, but it nagged at me the whole set.
Don't get me wrong, it's a treat seeing this experiment live, and the Lips are more than capable of executing it, but sometimes it devolved into by-the-book coverage. I still commend them for putting their stank on it.
"Money" and "Us and Them" are the standouts of the Moon set. The band goes whole hog into those tracks, which are closer to their own sonic brew than the others. That's when we got to see that wide-eyed Lips imagination and glimmer that keeps fans like me coming back.
If only we could all inject some of Coyne's focused whimsy into our daily lives, well...
During "Money," Coyne threw three or four balloons full of cash into the crowd totaling $5,000. It was a cool gimmick, and the balloons only lasted seconds above the throngs before being obliterated. I was too far from the stage to get my head smashed and bloodied trying to get some free dough, though.
The throb of Afrojack's robo-humping hundreds of yards away on the large stage could be heard (and felt) during Moon's quieter moments, pulling us out of the magic. I may bitch about the Lips doing Moon, but I stayed until the plug was pulled on the heart on the video screen behind the band.
A lot of Houston Lips fans complained that they wanted to hear the band do some of their classic discs in full instead of Moon -- like The Soft Bulletin, for example -- but for the sheer spectacle of it all, you can't beat their take on Moon, even given the lack of pure pow involved.
Personal Bias: As a big fan of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, and the Flaming Lips, I had tried to keep myself away from hearing their version of Moon until I could see it live for myself. It was well worth the wait.
The Crowd: If you weren't at the Jeep Power Amp Stage waiting on Afrojack with glow sticks and beer, or in Summer Fest traffic or passed out under a tree, you were more than likely watching the Flaming Lips.
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Overheard in the Crowd: "How sturdy are these Porta Potties?"
Random Notebook Dump: I want my funeral to look like a Flaming Lips show. Just throw my corpse in a giant hamster ball and let me go while people dressed as frogs shoot confetti onto my friends and family.