After a little over a year, the Flaming Lips returned to Nashville on March 29th to bring down the house with their trademark stoner rock sound and colorful performances.
Last time we saw the Lips was at the Soundharvest Festival in Centennial Park back in 2015, where their fantastic stage show was the perfect culmination to a day of music. This time the group came to War Memorial Auditorium with the rap group clipping. to tear down the house once again.
The night started with the three members of clipping walking onto a stage crowded with instruments only to take up a table of DJ equipment and a microphone. The group consists of Daveed Diggs, most famous for his role as Thomas Jefferson and Marquis de Lafayette in the broadway musical Hamilton, and William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes, the group’s two producers.
Once the audience quieted down, a hush fell over the room, and Diggs launched into the a capella intro to their self-titled album, a blisteringly fast rap verse ending in a blast of harsh noise.
The rest of their set was filled with little in the way of a stage show, yet Diggs’ impressive rap skills and the eclectic and oftentimes abrasive instrumentals kept much of the audience captivated, and sometimes had them bouncing and rapping along.
Unfortunately, much of the audience consisted of 50-something-year old Flaming Lips fans, and the mix of rap music and harsh noise was a far cry from what those fans came for. Nonetheless, clipping put on a lively and intense performance with a set consisting of their most impressive rap verses and liveliest instrumentals. Diggs’ a capella verse from the intro to their most recent release Splendor and Misery left the crowd in awe, while songs like the bouncy banger “Air ‘em Out” and the visceral closer to the night “Body and Blood” had the crowd bouncing and swaying along.
After a brief intermission, the band emerged through a thick fog. Immediately they launched into their set, bringing an explosion of rainbows and lasers. The band played a mix of older hits such as “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1” and cuts from their newest release Oczy Mlody like “There Should be Unicorns.”
Whether you’re a fan of this band or not, the Flaming Lips’ stage show is really something to experience. Between the deluge of balloons being tossed around the crowd, inflatable animal costumes and inflatable rainbows, and a lifesize hamster ball, there was never not some spectacle to admire or laugh at while the band provided an equally psychedelic backdrop with their music. At one point lead singer Wayne Coyne rode a plastic unicorn through the crowd while fans scrambled for a chance to touch his outstretched hands. Not long after that, Coyne was in the inflatable hamster ball, rolling over the crowd singing David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” as a tribute to the late singer.
Before playing “How??” off of their most recent album, Coyne addressed the audience, stating that despite the sad nature of the song, the band hoped that this would not stop the fans from enjoying themselves. In a set full of huge crescendos, vibrant audio textures, and entertaining stage antics, this was not difficult to accomplish.
The band concluded the night with an encore of “Waiting for Superman,” followed by a second encore of their hit “Do You Realize?” a beautiful ballad that left the audience in a daze of contentment.