Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Flaming Lips

Last month I finally got the chance to see the Flaming Lips in concert. I’d wanted to see them for a few years now, but they haven’t played Dallas since 2006. A nearby town held its second annual music festival this year, and the Lips were the biggest name act to play the festival. The fact that the show was free was a nice little cherry on top.

Nobody was sure how many people were going to show up, so I wanted to get there a little bit early to make sure I could get in (people with festival wristbands were given priority over those without). The show was held outside at a fairground, so it was capable of holding a pretty large number of people. Upon arriving about an hour before the show was scheduled to start, I was able to walk right in and get a spot that afforded a decent view.

Two acts performed before the Lips. They were Stardeath and White Dwarfs and Midlake. I think Stardeath and White Dwarfs may be the most confusing band name ever. They are fronted by Wayne Coyne’s nephew, whose voice sounds a lot like Wayne. How awesome would it be to have Wayne Coyne as your uncle, and have him let you use his stage setup? I thought they were pretty good. One of the highlights was their offbeat cover of Madonna’s “Borderline”. I also enjoyed Midlake, who hail from Denton (where the festival was held).

Anticipation was high by the time the Lips were ready to hit the stage. They didn’t disappoint upon entry, as the video screen was used to make it look like the band was emerging one by one from a woman’s nether regions. Wayne broke out the human hamster ball and gave a big speech about how he wanted everyone to play nice. Wayne hadn’t taken more than a few steps into the crowd when the band launched into their first song…and the power went out. Wayne headed back to the stage, and after a brief delay the band started again. But no more hamster ball. The power would go out one more time in the middle of the show. I’m not sure what the deal was with that, but I thought it was handled rather good-naturedly. Wayne attributed the outages to a woman who lived nearby using her toaster, and the crowd seemed to take it pretty much in stride. Although I think it maybe cost us a couple of songs from the setlist since the end time seemed to be set in stone, I didn’t feel ripped off. I mean, how can you when the show is free, right?

Overall, I really enjoyed the show. And hearing some of the new songs live gave me a greater appreciation for them. I bought the Lips new album last fall when it came out because of the great reviews. Although there were a couple of songs that I really liked, after listening to it a few times I was feeling a bit underwhelmed. But after seeing them live I like the album a lot better. Some of these new songs are incredibly heavy live. The combination of getting walloped by that heavy-osity, an adoring crowd, and Wayne’s enthusiasm changed how I experience this music when I hear it now. I guess that’s one of the reasons that people go to live shows in the first place. And it might sound kind of hokey, but there were a lot of good vibes at this show. It was a feel-good, party kind of atmosphere, and you got the impression that the band really has an appreciation for their audience.

I came very close to not going to this show, but I’m really glad that I did. I can’t wait to see the Lips again.

It was a beautiful day, but it got a bit chilly after the sun went down. Had the concert taken place one week later, we would've been snowed upon.
Stardeath and White Dwarfs. Most confusing band name ever?


On the left you will see Recyclosaurus Rex, who is the mascot of the city of Denton, Texas's recycling program. He danced onstage for most of the show.

The dancers were dressed like DJ Lance Rock from Yo Gabba Gabba.

Teh aftermath.

Here are a couple of videos that I shot. The audio ain't the greatest in the second one because of the heavy bass, but it's worth watching for the ending.

Worm Mountain
Silver Trembling Hands
Yeah Yeah Yeah Song
In the Morning of the Magicians
Watching The Planets (acoustic version)
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots pt. 1
Waiting For a Superman
See The Leaves
Convinced of the Hex
Do You Realize?


Monday, April 12, 2010

Vampire Weekend in Dallas

Sunday night I went to see Vampire Weekend. I didn’t go as a fan, but more out a sense of curiosity. Being the contrarian that I am I was pretty anti-VW when their first album came out. There was something about that East Coast-preppies-playing-Afro-Caribbean-flavored pop music aesthetic that kind of rubbed me the wrong way. There was something a bit too “precious” about it. But then I really grew to love Grizzly Bear, and it doesn’t get more East Coast preppy than those guys. And then Vampire Weekend’s second album got great reviews. I think I also got a sense of a certain ironic detachment from VW that made me question their sincerity a little bit.

Eventually, the backlash to Vampire Weekend grew large enough that my contrarian nature began to question that. I mean, something that gets so much love has to have something to it, right? I’ve grown to feel that music is usually better live (funny, I used to feel completely the opposite), so I thought I would give them a listen in person to decide for myself.

The verdict? I think these guys have something. The songs are incredibly catchy. I don’t have either of their albums and I’ve only heard a few of their songs, and I think that lack of familiarity kept me from really loving the show. I did enjoy it though. It seemed like they did a good job of pulling off their sound in a live setting, and it made me want to listen to more of their stuff.

I kinda felt like grandpa as I surveyed the crowd, although I think things were marginally closer to my demographic up in the balcony where there were seats. When the guy came around with wristbands as people were lined up to get in I was a little taken aback by the fact that maybe only 7 or so people out of the 50 in line in front of me were over 21. Am I getting too old for this?

I had my point and shoot camera with me, and at one point someone from the venue came over to hassle me over whether it was a video camera or not. I think this was because of the LCD screen that flips open to the side. Number 1: It does have video capabilities, but the mic on that thing is ridiculous for recording anything other than really quiet stuff, so I wasn’t shooting any video. And B, if I was shooting video, I might have had the thing pointed at the stage more than 40% of the time. So take that, jerkface. He said I could use it as long as I didn’t have the screen off to the side. Whatever. Have fun watching the hundreds of videos on Youtube shot by other people who were there.

All in alI I enjoyed the show, and I’m now interested in listening to more VW. So I’m glad I went.

This is the opening band - Abe Vigoda.