The Flaming Lips performed Friday night at the Boulevard Poll at The Cosmopolitan. Photo by Erik Kabik/ Retna/ erikkabik.com
The show began the way many end: a riot of confetti befitting of a ticker tape parade for returning war heroes, Mardi Gras levels of color-saturated chaos, enough reefer smoke to fill the lungs of a Brontosaurus and almost as many flashing lights as that which illuminated The Strip four stories below.
Flaming Lips' frontman Wayne Coyne walks atop the crowd in an inflatable sphere. Photo by Erik Kabik/ Retna/ erikkabik.com
“We have a lot of strobe lights,” Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne announced from the stage at The Boulevard Pool at The Cosmopolitan on Friday night, minutes before the band began its pupil-dilating 15-song set. “And we turn them all the way up.”
Shortly thereafter, Coyne re-emerge in his “space bubble,” walking atop the crowd in a see-through, inflatable sphere as the rest of the band conjured up swelling pockets of dissonance and ominous, lurching rhythms.
Initially, the sonics contrasted sharply with the aesthetics: an opening salvo of dense, Krautrock-inspired jams (“The Fear” / “Worm Mountain” / “Silver Trembling Hands”) was set against a Day-Glo bright backdrop of big, bouncing balloons pregnant with party favors, dancing girls on stage in Swiss Miss outfits, Coyne singing from atop the shoulders of a dude in a bear costume.
That changed with the dizzy, helium-lunged pop of “She Don’t Use Jelly” and a jubilant “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song,” with the crowd joining in on the chorus like a bunch of over-caffeinated school kids
This give and take pretty much defined the evening: head-down lunges into mesmeric, droning, psych-rock atmospherics leavened with idiosyncratic pop confections.
Through it all, there were plenty of absurdist flourishes, like guitarist/keyboardist Steven Drozd playing part of a tune (the new “Is David Bowie Dying?”) on his iPhone (which sounded like a series of space-age whale calls) as well as strumming a double-necked guitar with one neck missing, and Coyne donning a pair of massive faux hands that shot green lasers.
And then there was the giant inflatable caterpillar watching from the wings, smiling wide, just like everyone else.