The Flaming Lips show at The Camden Roundhouse was cancelled last night due to an unspecified “illness”. However, according to the Roundhouse’s website, tonight’s show may still go ahead:
“The second show on Tuesday 21 May is unaffected at present. However, should illness persist, the promoter may need to reschedule the second show too. More information will be made available at the earliest possible opportunity. Please bear with us and check back for updated news.”
I do hope it’s nothing serious. Ever since I first saw The Flaming Lips live, I have envied those members of the crowd dressed as a rabbit or whatever, dancing on stage in a crazy fashion whilst Wayne Coyne walks over the crowd in an inflatable plastic bubble.
Surely everyone feels the same way?
I mentioned this to a few people, and of course the first thing they suggested was that I should perhaps grow up. A few less harsh, but more cynical people offered me odds on achieving this goal – telling me that even if I failed it would surely make a good story for the blog. “I’m not a bloody performing seal” I protested. “I’m not going to do stupid things just so it makes a good story for the blog”. This is, of course, nonsense. Clearly I am quite prepared to do all manner of stupid things for the sake of a good story, but lets hold that thought for now.
A couple of people just sniggered, and looked forward to the YouTube clips. But I was serious. At the age of forty three I have long since given up any dreams of being a rock star. This is just as well. I can’t play guitar especially well. When I sing, the noise I create sounds like two foxes fighting. But The Flaming Lips knew the rock n roll lifestyle isn’t for everyone. And they offered the next best thing. A way to be up onstage with the band, working the crowd. And looking ridiculous in a rabbit costume. One consolation at least is that you have a cloak of anonymity around you. No-one is looking at you specifically. No-one can see your face. They’re all admiring Wayne walking over the crowd like a psychedelic hamster in an inflatable balloon-bubble-thing or bouncing other giant inflatable balloons over a waterfall of streamers in the quasi religious experience that is a Flaming Lips gig.
So its a no-brainer. A bucket list automatic entry. But how to pull it off?
Google directed me to the Flaming Lips forums, and it appeared that the band plucked people from the crowd prior to the show. “Look happy” went the instructions, “look fun, wear a silly costume and don’t look too crazy and maybe, just maybe, they’ll pick you out”. Yeah – like a tender young groupie from the crowd, I thought. Shudder.
I didn’t fancy my chances. I’m a bit too old, and possibly grumpy looking to automatically qualify. It also sounded like I’d have to do a fair bit of waiting around. As someone who struggles to wait in line at the bank for more than two minutes, the prospect of grinning inanely at The Flaming Lips’ roadies for an hour or so – and possibly showing my ankles to them (or worse) before the gig on the off chance that they would want me to join the band onstage did not appeal. Having a slightly overweight long-haired man stare meaningfully into my eyes whilst he stutters “No Ass No Pass” through his beard is not a situation I wish to encourage or an image I want imprinted onto my soul.
More importantly all that flirting with roadies might also be at the expense of enjoying a pre-gig drink with friends.
So I emailed someone at the record company. It seemed less unseemly somehow.
I pictured a busy executive on his fifth espresso of the morning, so I lettered a polite email with phrases such as “I want to Reach Out to you” which is how I assume all these music executives now phrase their emails whilst they practice their putting skills in their office. I braced myself for his failing to “reach out” to me.
But, in the event, I did get a speedy response. The press officer did not disappoint in the “wacky record executive” stakes either: At the bottom of his email was the zany signature line: “Telepathically sent from the power of my own mind”.
Ha! Those crazy record company guys!
The executive did put me in touch with someone, who put me in touch with someone else. It all looked very promising…
Sadly that person studiously ignored me. I can’t blame them. I’d have ignored me too.
And then I heard that on this tour The Flaming Lips are ringing the changes. No more onstage dancing bunnies. No more dressing up. The new record “The Terror” is bleak. It’s not the sort of stuff you wave your hands in the air to. Somewhere, The Flaming Lips made an about turn and have stopped making life-affirming anthems about death. Now, they are making records so gloomy and lacking in hope that they make Depeche Mode sound like Black Lace…
All being well, I will be there at The Roundhouse tonight, hoping whoever is ill has made a speedy recovery. Have they scrapped the confetti and hamster ball? Surely it’d be like Iron Maiden without Eddie? I’ll let you know tomorrow…
Record #192: The Flaming Lips – Try To Explain