Yesterday, I woke at an ungodly early hour in order to complete my ten hour workday in time to snag an early spot in line for the Flaming Lips show at the Paramount Theater. Before I got in line, I stopped at PoDog and got myself a Seattle Dog and some fried pickles in order to sustain my body for the long evening ahead. I suppose I could have eaten something healthier, but I believe I read a study somewhere that indicated that the amount of cream cheese and scallions consumed is directly proportional to the number of hours someone can stay up past their bedtime, and that spicy pickle sauce enhances the effect. You can’t argue with science. That would be like trying to argue with a clown–in the end, you just look foolish, so instead you should just eat the pickles and let your stomach be filled with happiness. I contemplated stopping at Molly Moon’s, but as it turned out, I had reached my stomach’s capacity for happiness at that point in time.
I ended up getting in line for the show around five thirty; the doors were set to open at seven, so I had a rather long wait ahead of me. I didn’t mind, however, as I was approximately fifteenth in line, which practically guaranteed me a good spot so long as the line didn’t explode into a frenzy of running, shoving, and elbows when the doors opened.
When the doors finally did open, there were some people toward the back who didn’t quite understand the concept of a line and who ran and shoved their way to the front, and while I do feel it should be legal for these people to be tasered to serve as an example to others, we still got an excellent place along the front rail next to the stage.
Having secured such an excellent spot, we were not about to move, even when the opening act, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, proved excrutiating. According to what I just now yanked from Wikipedia, “Pink’s solo tours have generally been met with much negativity, primarily because his music was never intended to be performed live for commercial audiences.”
Here, have a quote: “People boo me everywhere…They don’t even hide their contempt. I’m used to it now…Hey, I’m giving audiences the real thing…For better or worse, I’m out there, and those are the circumstances. People don’t like it when it seems like you don’t know what’s happening, or I’m getting bummed out with certain aspects and I can’t hide it. I think people feel that pain and just think it’s bad.”
Or people think it’s bad because it’s actually bad. Painfully bad. The first subtle cue that we were in for a long opening act ride was when they first came on stage, Ariel Pink dressed in hobo couture–what appeared to be a red and black christmas sweater cinched in with a mirrored belt over silver lurex pants and clogs, the rest of the band so mismatched it appeared they were trying for redux Village People.
I couldn’t focus all of my scathing remarks on the band, however, as I was distracted by the mess of photographers who had appeared to take up the space inbetween the rail and the stage to block my view. No, this was not the band I had come to see, and in fact, worked to spare my eyes and ears, but I didn’t wait outside for an hour in a half in off-and-on rain to have to stare at someone’s backboobs or crop circles the whole night. The most obnoxious one turned out (to the best of my deductive abilities) to be from the Seattle Weekly–she appeared to be too bored to take any more photos but clearly felt it was her solemn duty to continue to stand in my way. What is it with the Weekly and total douchebags? Once the editor, Mike Seely, pretended to offer me a job as a prank because he’s a classy guy, then tried to forbid me from talking about it because he didn’t like the idea of the things he said coming back to haunt him, and to this day, I hope he goes blind and develops a debilitating disease that rots him from the inside out. Syphilis, maybe.
Eventually, the photographers were shooed away, and I was able to refocus my searing laserbeam eyes of hatred back at the stage for the remainder of their set, which thankfully was not overly long.
Afterward, while the stage was being set for the Lips, Wayne Coyne came onstage and warned the audience that the band uses a hell of a lot of strobe lights and that things could get quite intense for the people closest to the stage, that people often aren’t aware that they might have a bad reaction to an experience like this until it starts to happen, and beseeched anyone who felt like they might be getting ill to look away from that part of the show. For all his warnings, there was an ambulance outside after the show, so at least one person did not take his caution to heart.
After the stage was prepped, an enormous screen started playing a video of a nude woman dancing. A few minutes later, light started pulsating out of her nether regions–I leaned over to Tristan and said “…I could do that, but I don’t wanna.” Eventually, she laid down, the video zoomed into the pulsating light, and from the center of it, each member of the band was birthed.
Wayne was last, and rolled out into the crowd with his inflatable hamster ball.
When he got back onstage, the sky exploded with balloons and confetti–simple, childish elements that combined with the sound into a cacaphony of beauty and magic.
The show nearly defies description, save that it encapsulates nearly everything weird and wonderful about the Lips. It encourages you to find and revel in moments of joy because life is short and love is fragile, and beauty can be found everywhere. I found myself crying with happiness during the encore performance of “Do You Realize??” because the moment was so perfect and the song itself is so uplifting. I could not have wished for a better concert experience; I have my doubts that a better concert experience is possible.
When I got home, I found confetti in my pants.