Flaming Lips, Reggie Watts & Eric Andre 6.22.23
Words & Photos by Andrew Wyatt
Maybe. Perhaps all of this is true. Pink is a color that tends to represent compassion and frailty of being human. And the heartbreaking ephemeral, finite nature of mortality continuously pricks the ethereal beauty of their songs. Life is filled with struggle. But all that seems so fucking abstract. Yoshimi, as portrayed in the song, was a city employee with a black belt in karate. And she was chopping up some bad muthafuckers. So, there had to be something more tangible about the Flaming Lips shows that grabbed hold of me like a wad of bubblegum rubbed into the rubber sole of a canvas shoe while cruising the aisle of a thrift store pushing a metal cart with a squeaky front wheel. Yeah, something like that, something that sticks forever. And as the confetti swirled above my head last weekend at the Mission Ballroom in Denver, I couldn’t help but realize there was something more that drives myself and other fans to their shows.
This year’s Flaming Lips tour is a celebration of the 25-year anniversary of the album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. They begin each show following the track list from beginning to end before moving to other tunes. And yes, there are the 20-foot inflatable pink robots, copious amounts of confetti, lots of lasers, wardrobe changes, flood lights, and other sonic and visual trappings.
Life is brutishly short. And in the face of that realization there is only response worth dropping into the squeaky shopping cart of our souls, and that is love. Lead Singer Wayne Coyne frequently exhorted the Mission Ballroom crowd to love friends, neighbors, strangers nearby and far. One of the last words projected on the expansive stage screen behind the band was the word, LOVE. He exhorted fans to love the band, the music, the moment. Love all the incidental moments. Even though it is so easy just to become another robot in an atomtronic world. As I walked out in the rain-drenched summer night picking pieces of confetti from my hair and wondered if perhaps love is the incidental moment and the primal scream that can become the dramatic, everlasting conclusion. Perhaps there is a little bit of Yoshimi in us all and armed to the teeth with a black belt in love, perhaps we can chop up some bad muthafuckers too. And then, finally, this world can be a better place to live before we die.