The Flaming Lips have a novel idea for bringing back live music in the time of COVID-19, with the band planning a hometown performance in Oklahoma City in which each audience member will be in a giant bubble.
Lips frontman Wayne Coyne has long utilised a plastic bubble in order to walk on top of crowds during the band’s shows. For their remotely-filmed performances on Fallon and Colbert earlier this year to support new album ‘American Head’, each member was separately housed in their own bubble. For the Colbert performance, a small audience was present, each of whom was also inside a bubble.
Earlier this week, Coyne posted a photo on Instagram from the venue, demonstrating the remarkable setup:
In a new interview with Brooklyn Vegan, Coyne discussed the ambitious project. According to the band’s frontman, there will be three people in each of the bubbles, and the band are hoping to play two shows a night.
“The place that we’re at at the moment, it holds almost 4,000 people, but it only holds a hundred space bubbles,” said Coyne. “So it’s a lot of space in there.”
“You fill them up and people can be in them for quite a while. I don’t think people quite realize that. Since we have some here, we’ve played with them and messed with them for quite a while. I mean, even back in 2006, I would get in one of the space bubbles at the end of our big Halloween parade here, and I would walk down the street for almost an hour in one. Yeah. You know what I mean? It holds a lot of air. I mean, you can be in there for quite a while.”
“I mean, I’m not suggesting the whole world should do it this way,” Coyne added. “I’m just saying the Flaming Lips can try it this way, and if you like our music, you can come see us. You’ll have to be in one of these space bubbles, but maybe that’ll be a good thing.”
In another interview with Jambase published earlier this week, Coyne said the band are attempting to figure out the logistical aspects of the concert such as how audience members go to the bathroom or get drinks.
“We don’t want this to be [a super spreader event] like that Smash Mouth [concert]. We want this to be safe and a great experience. Those are the things the venue is allowing us to set up so we can start to figure out how it will work. The part about playing in the bubble, we already have down. It’s how we get the crowd in and out without cross-contamination that we need to figure out, but they’re giving us a few weeks in this venue to figure it out.”
- Read more: The Flaming Lips – ‘American Head’ review: indie-rock’s space invaders crash-land back on planet Earth
‘American Head’, the Flaming Lips’ 16th studio album, arrived last month. In a four-star review, NME called a “beautiful ode to love and loss that handles the subjects with grace,” comparing it with the band’s 1999 standout ‘The Soft Bulletin’.
“Rather than using their fantastical bubble of sound to transport listeners into distant galaxies, as they have done so many times before, the band here float softly above Oklahoma city, where Coyne sits up front, quietly contemplating beauty and childhood.”