Some bands cannot capture the concert experience on an album. One such band is The Flaming Lips.
That is not a jab to the quality of its reproduced sound. It is simply an acknowledgment that thousands of orange and yellow confetti slivers, a pair of laser-shooting supersized hands and an inflatable ball with frontman Wayne Coyne rolling inside it cannot fit onto a standard CD-ROM. Nor can it be purchased on iTunes.
Oklahoma City's Coyne and his four-piece band brought their exuberant live show to the House of Blues at Showboat Casino-Hotel on Sunday. A celebration of the offbeat, the concert ran like a screwball carnival. The two-hour set featured fluorescent orange equipment, a monstrous video screen flashing psychedelic images and guests, including a black bear, butterfly (costumed, onstage) and gyrating naked woman (onscreen).
The Flaming Lips plucked material from several albums, predominantly from the latter half of its two-decade career. The alt-rockers pulled from their most recent release, "Embryonic" of 2009, on songs such as "The Sparrow Looks Up At The Machine," "See the Leaves" and "I Can Be A Frog," but also played standouts from 2006's "At War With The Mystics," and 2002's "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots," including the acoustic title track.
The Lips fuse elements of jam bands - it just released a cover album of Pink Floyd's iconic "Dark Side of the Moon," with Stardeath and White Dwarfs, Henry Rollins and Peaches, which it did not sample during Sunday's show - with the alternative rock for which it is known. Songs such as "Powerless," which runs nearly seven minutes recorded and just as long onstage, typified this crossover.
The enraptured audience didn't mind the length, though, swaying, whooping and soaking in the colors and wonky effects that defined the show. Infectious "Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" and "The W.A.N.D.," both from "At War With The Mystics," had crowd members' every limb in motion, dancing and batting around oversized, colored balloons released at the show's start. A man dressed as Captain America stood in the center of the crowd, perhaps a nod to Flaming Lips song "Captain America Splits the Audience."
Coyne has an easy stage presence, at once a captivating showman and affable guy. During opener Fang Island's hard-charging 45-minute set, the veteran performer stood to stage left, hand over heart, tapping his foot appreciatively. He preceded all songs with short introductions and kept a friendly rapport with the audience.
"I can't think of a more American place to be on the Fourth of July than Atlantic City," Coyne said.
His attention to the crowd made for an intimate, familiar atmosphere, as if the room was a festive gathering of old friends.
Some songs required more of an introduction than others. "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" and "See The Leaves," delivered during an extended jam session, received short introductions. Before "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song," "The Sparrow Looks Up At The Machine," and "In The Morning of the Magicians," though, Coyne meditated upon such topics as peace, dreams and love.
"We were discussing the nature of human love somewhere on the South Pole about 12 years ago. We were asking ourselves ... ‘Do we have any control over that mechanism in our minds?'" Coyne said. "I hope we don't."
Closer "Do You Realize??" was delivered with sparse production, in sharp contrast to earlier numbers. Framed by a tableau of streamers, confetti and balloons that littered the lit stage, Coyne sang the refrain, accompanied by only a keyboard, to close the show.
Coyne gave a nod to his fans, "the greatest fans to play to," for embracing the jovial atmosphere and making the show a celebration.
"We throw (balloons) out at you, and you treat them like magic balls from outer space. We shoot confetti, and you act like it was just shot out the ass of some magic dragon," Coyne said. "Thank you guys for being such freaks and giving us your love."
To contact Emily Brill email