A "supersonic flux invented in the future, blowin' up so hard you can hear it before it happens"...
The amazing Technicolor dreamboat, Wayne Coyne, and his travelling salvation sci-fi spectacle The Flaming Lips are well into the second year of touring ‘The Soft Bulletin’. The show promises hand puppets, bear suits and lots of ‘sonic experimentation’. In theory, it sounds like the worst kind of art-school wank; but in practice, it is still sheer brilliance.
Coyne lays into his gong with gusto for ‘Race For The Prize’, and guitarist/keyboardist Steven Drozd follows with a flurry of stardust electric piano flourishes worthy of their own Disney film. If that isn’t good enough, Drozd is on drums too, pre-recorded video of his studio tracks popping up among the projected marching bands and atom bomb explosions. Credit is due to a band that uses a DAT because they play too many instruments, rather than none at all.
The vital-sign-monitoring throb of ‘What Is The Light?’ and the perfectly misfiring drums of ‘The Spiderbite Song’ are proof enough to rewrite the Beatles theory that the concert is no match for the studio.
Having tinkered with music all these years, the Lips seem to have picked up a thing or too about multimedia as well. The million Muppet march ‘The Gash’ synchs perfectly to a jazzercise video, while ‘A Spoonful Weighs A Ton’ makes a cymbal crash out of the Teletubbies‘ bumping stomachs.
Gong-skills aside, Coyne is the perfect ringmaster for a weird science fair like this. He understands that if he cannot woo, he can at least wow. He challenges the ‘affect or effect’ question with hand-on-heart sincerity and a face dripping with glittery fake blood. Coyne even dons a strap-on strobe-light for the megaphone fuzz freak-out of ‘Lightning Strikes The Postman’.
Closing with ‘Zaireeka’‘s ‘How Will We Know’, Coyne warbles about a “supersonic flux invented in the future, blowin’ up so hard you can hear it before it happens”. Well… that pretty much sums it up.