The Flaming Lips Keep Right On Terrorizing Mainstream Rock
Next Tuesday, Flaming Lips will release their long-awaited new album, The Terror. Though the band has been constantly busy with side-projects over the last several years to tide their freaky fans over, The Terror marks their first "official" entry into their primary discography since 2009's Embryonic.
Photo by Marco Torres The Flaming Lips performing at Free Press Summer Fest 2010
The album made its live debut at SXSW last month, where the band performed the new in its entirety to an unsuspecting audience of 15,000 at Austin's Auditorium Shores. Having been a part of that crowd myself, I saw the confusion on the faces of just about everyone in the audience who wasn't a hardcore Flaming Lips fan.
I even got a text from a friend who was also in the audience, asking me what happened to the Flaming Lips. The Terror is a dark, challenging record of intense psychedelia and ambient soundscapes.
The stage show reflected that, forsaking the confetti, the giant laser hands, and the hamster ball of recent years in favor of a creepy baby with streams of tentacle lights wrapped around front man Wayne Coyne. Needless to say, casual fans went in expecting one thing and got another entirely, and many weren't happy.
The Daily Texan, UT's student newspaper, even produced this graphic breaking the whole thing down, labeling it a "failed concert" and "horrible, grating, atonal, discordant dirge-like racket." The writer admitted to not being a fan of the band to begin with and using this concert as a test. Whoops.
Personally, I loved the show as much as I love The Terror, as well as everything else the band has done. It's not inferior, it's just a new stage for an adventurous and constantly evolving band.
In the interest of examining the Lips' constant evolution, though, let's take a look backwards. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the band's 1993 breakthrough album, Transmissions from the Satellite Heart.