Last month I got to see The Flaming Lips during SXSW in Austin. Being a Lips live show veteran, I ventured to Auditorium Shores expecting balloons, confetti, big-ass hands, lasers, or maybe Wayne riding the big hamster ball on top of the crowd, but instead I received “The Terror”.
After being told that we were the biggest crowd in SXSW history, Wayne began to drape long plastic tubes over his body and then strapped a creepy, life-like baby to his left arm. Wayne proceeded to explain to the crowd that they were going to hear and see something new, for the first time, before anyone else, “So if we fuck up a couple of times, and have to start again, when you go back home don’t tell any one that happened, just say The Lips had it together.” In a Madonna and child reference he looked at and sang to the fake baby doll, red and blue lights started to blink, when the band played, the light began to pump through the tubes from the amplifiers to the baby, a beautiful art filled metaphor that I interpreted to represent the way that music shapes us and nurtures us on our journey in life. Wayne’s classy foil suit reflected the light and like the psychedelic god he is, he creeped out the kids behind me. “Whoa! This is not what I saw on YouTube ,“ one said. People actually started leaving because The Lips were not playing their classics like “Do You Realize?” and “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.”
I laughed a bit and continued to absorb the gorgeous display.
The Flaming Lips are known for their joy-filled, colorful shows, but “The Terror” was, well… dark. One could only feel and embrace the melancholy of the crying drone synths, the distorted voices, and hints of Krautrock inspired guitar. The Flaming Lips music has always been a grim sticky-note about how life is ultimately sad, dim, and guaranteed to meet with death but “The Terror” takes it to a new level and it is indicative that Wayne and the band have abandoned all hope of love, humanity, and good vibes for that matter. This group has stepped far into THE abyss and with this thirteenth installment they have let it become known that they are “standing along”, terrified, and not in control. You will cry, you will fall into a small bout of depression, but you will not be disappointed, From Clouds Taste Metallic, to The Soft Bulletin and now The Terror, The Flaming Lips never get old and their music keeps pushing creative boundaries and hopefully they will continue to do so.
“The Terror” is set to release April 16, 2013.