Live Review: Flaming Lips at Live Oak Music Hall in Houston

Flaming_Lips_052916-2Amidst late spring and early summer tour dates mostly as part of festivals, beloved psych rockers The Flaming Lips stopped by Houston to play one of the first shows ever at the newly opened White Oak Music Hall. In fact, the venue, which will eventually include at least three different venue areas in one locale, still appears to be under construction. However, that didn’t affect the largest area, the Lawn, which consists of an outdoor, festival-style stage at the bottom of a small hill. The environment offers excellent views of the stage and can accommodate around 2,000 concert goers, giving Houston an important venue for housing middle to upper-tier indie rock acts.

Flaming_Lips_052916-3Flaming Lips headlined the all day Memorial Weekend event that included Nada Surf, Roky Erickson, Adia Victoria, and Title Fight, among other bands. As the event started at 2:00 PM, much of the event endured blistering heat. By the time the Flaming Lips took the stage just before 9:00, temperatures had dropped to milder ranges. Glowing in an array of vibrant stage lighting, the Flaming Lips stood beneath the dystopian, luminous cords that have come to typify their stage show for the past few years. For the better part of a decade, the Lips developed a live show that featured costumed dancers, euphoric bursts of confetti, and giant bouncing balls in a variety of colors. After The Terror was released, the band took a darker route, emphasizing eerie, futuristic stage props, but the show remained as trippy as ever.

Flaming_Lips_052916-16Recently, it seems the band has begun to merge those two aesthetics by utilizing some of the austere, terrifying stage props while still employing the confetti cannons and trippy characters such as giant inflatable frogs and mushrooms. On Monday evening, their setlist included many of the same crowd pleasers often culled from their extensive body of work: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1, Do You Realize??, and Race for the Prize. We were treated to perhaps even more of the band’s lauded 1998 record The Soft Bulletin than usual, as the group was fresh off of a performance of the album in full, supported by the Colorado Symphony. The band also reached all the way back to Clouds Taste Metallic for “Psychiatric Explorations of the Fetus with Needles.”

Flaming_Lips_052916-30It has been over three years since we’ve had a new album from the Flaming Lips, and since that time, the band parted ways with long time drummer Kliph Scurlock. It feels a little like the band might be getting restless to move into a new phase, and I’m excited to hear what that will sound like. Until then, the band still has one of the most visually captivating and enjoyable live performances in music. If you don’t believe me, just peruse the photographic proof below.

All images © Bryan C. Parker & Pop Press International; all rights reserved. Click any image to open set in slideshow viewer.

About author
Bryan Parker is a writer and photographer living and working in Austin, TX. He is the founder of blog Pop Press International and print journal True Sincerity and recently released his first book, a volume on Beat Happening in the 33 1/3 series.

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