It’s best to think of the Flaming Lips less as a band and more as a visual experience. Having probably the most extravagant stage show of any alternative band, Wayne Coyne and company have created a fantastical wonderland of light and colour that should be on the bucket list of any concert goer.
The Lips are usually associated with festivals- wide, expansive stages where their ideas can flourish and the crowd is as decorated as the band themselves. Turns out they can do the exact same tricks in a smaller venue, as they did at REBEL in Toronto this past Monday night. The entire crowd was struck with childlike awe as the very first song (“Race for the Prize”) was accompanied with an explosion of confetti, lasers, balloons, and a dazzling array of lights.
A wonderful, perhaps unintentional, quirk was the band’s mannerisms in between songs. Dressed in costumes, they noodled around on their instruments while the next eye-popping trick was being unfurled. It gave the crowd the feeling they were watching a group of kids playing pretend, and once each song started they were peering directly into the band’s collective imagination. It was a solid mix of old and new material, with many songs coming from the band’s latest release Oczy Mlody.
Some of the psychedelic fantasies that popped up over the course of the night were: giant inflatable mascots strolling out on stage, Wayne Coyne riding a glowing unicorn through the crowd, a giant rainbow inflating over the course of a song, and of course Wayne’s famous bubble walk. As the band played a triumphant cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”, Coyne walked out into the audience enveloped in a giant clear ball.
Positivity radiated from the frontman all night long, with nothing but joy and love being proclaimed in between songs. It was only near the end that Coyne mentioned the following song “Waitin on a Superman” would be sad due to personal reasons, and he would need the crowd’s energy to keep him going. The crowd was eager to oblige, and that energy carried on into the final track, the buoyant hit “Do You Realize??”. With that, the cold snowy night became a little more bearable as all inside REBEL left with a lightness in their hearts.