The Flaming Lips with Tame Impala and The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger, at Agganis Arena, Boston on Monday, September 30, 2013.
In some ways, the latest leg of The Peace And Paranoia tour is a coming together of like-minded takes on psychedelia, a generation apart. Wayne Coyne and the rest of his Fearless Freaks have hit up an imperial idea to invite Kevin Park and the rest of Tame Impala for a handful of gigs. I was curious to see how Coyne’s wild-eyed, visually assaultive approach would be complemented by the amniotic, cannabis-flavored journey favored by Tame Impala.
Tame Impala’s stage set up was minimal; a couple of servo-driven hot LED spots on either side of the stage that would occasionally blast Parker with changing colored shafts of light, the rest of the band in relative darkness aside from whatever pale light was cast by their ever-present projection of an oscilloscope’s wave patterns. The set started out really strongly, with Parker’s delicate vocals floating over the top of some downright nasty guitar work, especially on the latter part of “Enders Toi” where the barefooted Parker transmogrified into a reluctant guitar shredder. The momentum floundered a bit after the proto-choogling Blue Cheer-isms of “Half Full Glass Of Wine.” After Parker futzed around with his guitar and made the oscilloscope patterns dance around, they went into “Elephant” which always struck me as an odd choice for the lead off single, with discernable hooks as prevalent as oases in the outback. Things got back on track for the gloriously hazy closer of “Apocalypse Dreams,” a great way for them to walk off stage.
The Flaming Lips weren’t as successful. I give Coyne credit for retiring some of the well-worn aspects of the live show. No recruited, costumed dancers at the sides of the stages, no laser hands or blood packs, and thankfully no hamster ball. Instead, reflective semi-spheres of varying sizes were scattered at the front edge of the stage, with yards and yards of LED-containing tubing strewn about haphazardly. Rising from the center like a monolith was Coyne’s bully pulpit for the night, with the rest of the band obscured behind the props. Hell, it took me a few minutes to realize that founding member Michael Ivins was sitting in a chair at the far edge,stage left.
The Terror is a downbeat record, and unfortunately made up the lion’s share of the material. Maybe he’s in a funk from his recent divorce, but this record is not conducive for stoking the fires of the happy machine. He sensed that the crowd was rather listless and took to constant badgering for them to get into it, before, after and during songs. Hey Wayne – sorry pal but it’s your job to instill excitement and confetti cannons can only do so much.
A prime example of poor decision making lay in the delivery of “Race For The Prize.” How did he ever get the idea that a virtual a capella dirgey version for the majority of the song would even remotely work well? The big euphoric push hit when the band finally kicked in but by that time it was far too late. Kinda sums up their entire set.
Sean Lennon and Jakob Dylan could probably spend some whiskey-fueled bitch sessions talking about fathers and long shadows. In Lennon’s case, the songs tend to suggest that he skipped right past the ‘B’ section of his dad’s record collection and spent some serious headphone time with Love and Pink Floyd. Sometimes reminiscent of a slightly dancier, poppier version of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Lennon occasionally ripped some jagged leads to snap heads to attention while the tall and lithe Charlotte Kemp Muhl kept the bottom line moving along, nice and tidy.