Flaming Lips Put on Visually Bombastic Show at Oakland Fox

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Before a single warble hit the air at the Fox Theater Saturday night, everyone in the attending audience was eaten by a vivid, pulsating vagina. A naked girl was dancing dreamily in the polychromous screen, hypnotizing the crowd with her butt cheeks, hips and the curve of her shoulders. What seemed like a psychedelic Crayola commercial morphed into a full-blown horror flick when she turned around, spread her legs, and the blinding light emitting from her celestial orifice blossomed into a visual crescendo that swelled larger and larger until - "AH! AH! It's going to eat us all!"

Thus began our journey into the metaphysical pussy. We were transported back to the fetal stages of cognitive existence: All cerebral activity was anesthetized amid the chaotic shrieks and epilepsy-inducing strobes. The Flaming Lips' Afroed frontman Wayne Coyne burst from its core in his signature space-man bubble and crowd-crawled in his synthetic embryonic sac while his body was assailed by a thousand complimentary pocket lasers.

What followed his violent birth can only be described as an equally frenzied childhood - an erratic birthday party minus the ribboned pigtails and the vanilla frosted cake. The crowd was doused with giant balloons and truckloads of confetti, while interwoven trajectories of spaceships and costumed dancers set the stage for a grand playdate. The lights were cut and the theater was thrown into darkness, penetrated only by the wriggling, sperm-like pinpricks of laser projected onto all surfaces by every other hand in the crowd. Anticipation permeated every mind. We drew a collective breath. Then appeared the command in neat block letters on the screen: SHOOT WAYNE. His body glowed a fantastic red as the audience obliged him, and as he raised his mammoth foam hands in salute, a seismic roar seized the theatre and made the event a true fiesta.

The prismatic cabaret would have made for a euphoric live music experience had it been reinforced by quality sound and dynamic stage usage. But the sound was staticy and reverberated in odd patterns into the orchestra, while bassist Michael Ivins, lead guitarist Steve Drozd and drummer Kliph Scurlock prowled only their respective territories. Even Coyne didn't venture far from center stage after his preliminary tour-de-Fox.

The Lips delivered thematically appropriate hits off of their latest album, Embryonic, as well as iconic crowd pleasers such as "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" and "Waitin' For a Superman," but excluded early anthems such as "She Don't Use Jelly" and "Turn It On." Nevertheless, the tender, Pavement-esque quality of their earlier material still resonated Saturday night, and coaxed a smile from the lips of every nostalgic Lips fan.

We weren't treated to any much-hyped covers of Dark Side of the Moon or "Bohemian Rhapsody," possibly due to The Lips' alarmingly short set (two solid hours were consumed by the opening acts, whose drone permeated through the porous foam of fluorescent earplugs littering the crowd). The ensuing encore was predictable, as everyone knew what was missing. The Flaming Lips left us with a poignant rendition of "Do You Realize??," segmented by spontaneous applause, and sent a packed crowd onto the streets of Oakland at midnight with a pot butter high.

And a foolproof indication of a night well spent? Undressing in the quiet darkness of your apartment afterward and realizing that you've given birth to a pile of confetti on your bedroom floor.


Journey into the metaphysical pussy with Belinda at [email protected]



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