Words by Audra Tracy | Photos by David Turcotte
Fans lined the length of Seymour Street in Montclair on Thursday night in anticipation of a rare theatre gig featuring iconic space-rockers The Flaming Lips. Some were dressed as Santa, some were decked out in sequins, and pretty much everyone was ready for lift-off.
The fearless freaks from Oklahoma City are currently on tour promoting their latest LP, The Terror, a rich psychedelic romp into the dark side. As fuzzy as it is heavy, it’s an album that called for a complete revamp of your typical Lips show. No, dancing Dorothy’s and giant bouncy balloons of festivals past just wouldn’t do. This time around, ringleader Wayne Coyne and his crew had something else in store.
Just after 9pm, the band took their places and Coyne ascended a moon-rock shaped structure that stood center-stage. Above him, a ring of LED rope lights dangled from the ceiling. Below him, even more rope lights slithered through mirrored domes strewn like stones around the edge of the stage. And while his signature space bubble was nowhere to be found, fans still knew things were about to get weird at the Wellmont.
The opening notes of ‘Look…The Sun is Rising’ kicked off a symphony for the senses, shooting bursts of light through the mic-stand, down the moon rock, and trickling over the silver domes. As the title track followed, cannons shot swirls of black and white confetti into the air, and Montclair was officially in the grips of The Terror.
Being one of the few ‘non-festival’ stops on their tour, this was one of those shows where the band dared to do things a little differently. The go-to ‘greatest hits’ set-list got tossed, and instead fans listened up as The Lips tested out a ton of new tunes. As a whole, the performance seemed to complement the ominous atmosphere of The Terror, from the menacing vibe of ‘You Lust’ to the foreboding echoes of ‘Turning Violent’. Even the classics adapted to the mood, like when ‘Race for the Prize’ appeared in the form of a ballad mid-set.
Rather than relying on oddball props like giant laser hands and smoking megaphones to captivate onlookers, they introduced a new and improved laser light display so intense it rivaled that of any jamband on the scene. And the theatre setting only worked in their favor, containing all the rich sights and sounds that would have been lost in the open air of any outdoor event.
It felt as if the Flaming Lips knew exactly what to do with this venue, and it was a match made in outer space.
TheWaster.com | The Terror