Flaming Lips :: Waterfront Park :: 8.03.14
This week was a banner week for both free music and Major League Soccer - and those two things intersected on Sunday afternoon, when Radiation City and The Flaming Lips played a free show at Waterfront Park as part of MLS All-star Week, hot on the heels of 94/7's own free session with The War on Drugs, earlier that afternoon.
Radiation City's stock has been rising ever since they were named Willamette Week's "Best New Band" in 2012, and Sunday's gig was just the latest and biggest chapter in their ascent to fame. The band's unique brand of retro indie pop has become more and more polished with each passing year, and songs like "Zombies" (not to be confused with the Cranberries hit) serve to prove that they've deftly managed the transition from local back-room venues to big stages.
Reviewing a Flaming Lips show is a slightly daunting task, because the music tends to take a backstage to the concert experience (and antics) as a whole. If you're a fan of the band and/or you've been to one of their shows, you're probably going to be pretty stoked about seeing them (Spoiler Alert: This was most of the crowd). If, however, you're not into The Flaming Lips or you've never been to one of their shows / have no idea what to expect, I suspect the experience might be a bit surreal... or perhaps mildly scary. Beauty is, I suppose, in the eyes - or on the lips - of the beholder.
I personally had never been to a Flaming Lips gig before, but I did a lot of "research" (I watched a bunch of YouTube videos) before the show, and it was every bit as much of a crazy, wild ride as I expected. From Fred Armisen coming out three times in a row to introduce the band to people dancing on-stage dressed as mountains and trees to Wayne Conye donning a human muscle bodysuit and crowd-surfing in a giant plastic bubble, it was pure Flaming Lips in all their colorful glory.
For all the theatrics, however, The Flaming Lips are consummate musicians - and by the time they got to songs like "Do You Realize" and their rendition of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" at the end of the night, all the antics had faded away, leaving us with only beautiful, compelling music in the gathering dusk.