Ugh, the weather. It has been satanically hot, disgustingly muggy, unpredictably rainy and way over-discussed, but damn, last night was beautiful. It was one of those epic summer nights in the mid-80’s with a slight breeze and spotless sky—perfectly timed for an outdoor concert. As the sun set and cast an orange glow over the city’s west side skyline, the Flaming Lips lit up Central Park’s Summerstage, also in their signature array of oranges and purples.
Instead of actually buying tickets for the show, a group of my friends set up an elaborate picnic spread right outside the Summerstage venue (think Philharmonic picnic gone wild). I’m sure this practice is frowned upon, hopefully less so than illegal song downloads, but it is so enjoyable that I would take the heat for it anyway. Over pizza, hummus, cake and wine we watched the Lips through a break in the tree-line where we could marvel at their lightshow and crazy stage antics. And the antics abound: headman Wayne Coyne rolled out into the crowd in his plastic hamster ball (typical!), strobe lights flashed, orange-clad dancers covered the stage, psychedelic video screens illuminated the masses, and, of course, there were explosions of confetti. Lots of confetti.
I’m sure a lot of people would argue that watching a Flaming Lips concert from a distance and not partaking in the crowd’s hysteria detracts from the overall Lips experience, and though they might be right I really enjoyed the serenity of the entire evening. I still got my fill of quirky pop tunes with Do You Realize?, The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (Pt. 1). The band stayed away entirely from the Soft Bulletin album, which allowed them to dive into other fan faves, like an acoustic, philosophical rendition of In the Morning of the Magicians and the old radio hit She Don’t Use Jelly. And, of course, Central Park’s 10 p.m. curfew ended the show and our picnic party long before anyone wanted!
I’m still holding out some glimmer of hope for a Flaming Lips Broadway musical that was rumored a few years back, supposedly crafted by the magnificent West Wing writer Aaron Sorkin. (I’m pretty confident it could top American Idiot…) Can someone circle back on that for me, please? Welp, there goes Number 17 off the Summer Bucket List! Many, many thanks to my awesome, picnic-master friends that came out to enjoy the general splendor and celebrate my birthday with me!