Ghostland Observatory! (…and the Flaming Lips)

Sometimes I see live music just for the sake of it. For example, if I really like the venue or some good friends are going (the ones who I would follow if they jumped off a bridge). The music is, of course, always important but sometimes it’s not the primary reason I go to a show.

Flaming Lips at The Greek Theater LA

Flaming Lips at The Greek Theater LA

Take, for example, The Flaming Lips. I’ve seen them a dozen times before. The thing about The Flaming Lips is: the show is essentially the same, tour after tour.  The set list may change, but the typical theatrics remain in tact: crowd surfing in a bubble; confetti; balloons; dancing aliens, creatures, and furry animals on stage.  Feeling I’d seen that show plenty of times, I took a break from The Flaming Lips a few years ago.  However, when I heard they were playing The Greek Theater in LA (one of my favorite venues) and that Ghostland Observatory was opening, I decided it was time to reunite with the Lips.

That said, I knew nothing about Ghostland Observatory prior to the show. However, their name has been mentioned numerous times by people I trust, followed by accolades such as: “They’re great!”, “You’ve got to see them live!”, “I love Ghostland Observatory!”  Last night’s show at The Greek gave me the opportunity to reconnect with an old standard and get introduced to a new favorite.

Ghostland Observatory at The Greek Theater LA

Ghostland Observatory at The Greek Theater LA

Ghostland Observatory: If you haven’t seen this band live, I highly recommend it. First of all, they have an exceptional light show – and I fall for that every time.  Secondly, the music doesn’t suck.  In fact, there were some great guitar rock riffs and some good dance tracks. Third, I found the band (well, the 2 guys who make up Ghostland) to be mesmerizing to watch. One guy was wearing a cape, jamming on the synthesizers, and the other guy was busting out guitar solos and then dancing like he was in some European techno club.

To the purists out there who say, “It should be all about the music – music first, then production” – well, in my subjective opinion, the music was really good.  In fact, more often than not, the songs distracted me from the lights.  That said, I have not seen this band without the full-scale production, nor do I own any of their music (yet).  So the nearly seizure-inducing light show was a great way to engage me and make me take notice. People who have been following this band for a couple years tell me that they are indeed fantastic live, without all the lasers.

Here’s some video – lights and all:

The Flaming Lips: After Ghostland Observatory, I was actually a bit nervous that The Flaming Lips wouldn’t be able to live up to my expectations.  I wasn’t expecting a lot actually – good sound, some spectacle and crazy $h!t going on onstage, some old classics,  some new songs, and perhaps, something different.

They kicked off with the ol’ boy in the bubble trick.  Wayne Coyne climbed into a bubble and crowd surfed.  Seen it before.  Yet, after a substantial hiatus from seeing their live performance, I still found the bubble gimmick entertaining.  It also made me feel at “home” – the comfort of knowing exactly what I was getting. Furthermore, it sets the stage – some bands let the show build before they kick into high gear; the Flaming Lips need no runway – they just take off.

Flaming Furry Creatures

Flaming Furry Creatures

After the bubble, the furry animals, space creatures, flowers, and assorted characters joined the band on stage for some dancing and to kick balloons back out to the crowd.

In case you’re keeping track: bubble, furry things on stage, balloons. Who said it should be all about the music?!

But speaking of music, some highlights included: stripped down versions of “Fight Test” and “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Pt. 1”, along with the confetti filled encore performance of “Do You Realize??

Back to the spectacle: add confetti, large projections of dancing women, and Wayne Coyne singing while riding on the shoulders of a giant gorilla (to be more specific in case PETA is reading this, a person dressed in a gorilla suit) to the list.

All said and done, The Flaming Lips entertained me, made me dance and smile.  They didn’t do anything revolutionary.  They didn’t change my perspective or reinvigorate my passion for their music.  It’s what I expect from a feel-good movie – not necessarily worthy of an Academy Award, but easy, fun, and entertaining; a good show to see every few years.

Flaming Lips “Bubble” Entrance (in case you haven’t seen it before):

“Do You Realize” (aka Confetti Encore):

“Fight Test”:

Flaming Lips Live photo album:

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