Delivered with the alacrity one has come to expect from the Flaming Lips, Monday night's Central Park Summerstage show was a perfect balance of grandiosity, sincerity and weirdness.
The Flaming Lips have so thoroughly and regularly injected a sense of theatre and spectacle into their live shows that, like any other performers, they risk succumbing to routine. Monday night’s show (enthusiastically, and perhaps accurately, described by lead singer, Wayne Coyne, as the “best night of the summer”) was never pedestrian and always energetic and playful. Flanked onstage throughout the night by two groups of dancing and adoring fans, it led off with Mr. Coyne’s iconic hamster ball crowd surf and included a black bear shoulder ride, a massive gong, and a nearly constant precipitation of confetti.
Not without their serious moments, though, the Lips honored our armed service members with a stoic rendition of “Taps”, a concert finale Coyne had planned to perform for the duration of the Iraq War. Its longevity has nudged “Taps” up their setlist, and, instead, they unleashed “The W.A.N.D.”, a fittingly revolutionary anthem flaunting a gritty lead guitar lick, under even more confetti. Instead of continuing to hype the crowd for a seemingly predictable, and self-aggrandizing, encore, they simply ended with their bittersweet symphony—and by executive order since 2009, Oklahoma’s official rock song—“Do You Realize”. It was all very epic, sincere and inherently weird, delivered with the alacrity one has come to expect from the Lips.