Queens and Fallen Kings: A Royal Evening with the Flaming Lips.
The Flaming Lips + The Go! TeamCity: London
Venue: Royal Albert Hall
In 1867, Queen Victoria commissioned London's Royal Albert Hall in the hopes of exposing her subjects to high culture. Nearly a century and a half after she laid its foundation stone (and moments before the sold-out Flaming Lips show there was set to begin), a young American guy stood on its front steps holding a very different kind of court: "I saw Phish here in, like, '97," he said. One of the gaggle of smokers replied, "Nooooooo waaaaaaaaaaaay..." Phish probably isn't what came to mind when Victoria thought of broadening the minds of her subjects. But, then, Albert Hall isn't as suited for the classical musical performances she must have envisioned. From the beginning the building's interior acoustics laughed back echoes of the sounds produced within. The problem wasn't solved until 1969, when, just a few years after the Beatles played there on a double bill with the Rolling Stones, 135 glass fiber 'mushrooms' were hung from its ceiling to absorb the stray sound. I had a good view of these mushrooms from my standing-room-only perch in the gallery, the highest spot in the hall. They looked incongruous with the refined Wedgewood-esque veneer of the place, but totally in keeping with the twin drum kits waiting below on stage with "GO!" written on the kick-drum faces. I asked an English teen standing beside me if he knew who was opening. He turned to ask his friend and reported back, "The Go! Team," with a shrug.