Legendary alt-rockers The Flaming Lips rocked Rochester's Main Street Armory on Tuesday Oct. 25 as part of their fall tour, dazzling fans with an outstanding performance and enough confetti, balloons and psychedelic sexuality to make the ‘60s seem reserved.
Portland-based folktronica duo Talkdemonic and Philadelphia-based band Kurt Vile and The Violators opened the show. Talkdemonic played a captivating instrumental set, consisting only of viola, drums and some electronic sampling. Violist Lisa Molinaro remarked that opening for The Flaming Lips is "one of the highlights of our career so far." She also added "[drummer/synth guru] Kevin [O'Connor]'s been a fan for years … he flipped his wig when he found out."
Conversely, Vile's set was underwhelming, although the audience seemed generally pleased.
After the openers, the crowd waited excitedly for The Flaming Lips to make their signature bombastic entrance. Frontman Wayne Coyne even took a few moments during the band's final onstage sound check to make some announcements, apologizing for the show's four-month postponement and warning more sensitive fans to look away from the strobe lights.
Around 10 p.m., the house lights went down and the giant semicircle screen lit up with the image of a dancing naked woman, gradually zooming in on her vagina to reveal a hidden door through which most of the band entered.
Immediately after, amid a sea of confetti and boulder-sized balloons, Coyne entered and crowd surfed in his famous giant hamster ball while the rest of the band opened with "The Fear" and a cover of Black Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf." Adding to the spectacle was a number of audience members the band called on to dance onstage in Wizard of Oz costumes. The fans were mostly girls dressed as Dorothy, and included Geneseo sophomores Sarah Martinez, Lauren Slezak, Carmen Staub and freshman Beryl Guterman.
Other highlights of the set included "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song (With All Your Power)," "What is the Light?" and "The Observer," both from the band's groundbreaking 1999 album The Soft Bulletin, and a variation of "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1" re-titled in honor of Phoebe, a girl from the previous night's concert in Portland, Maine.
After starting the encore with "Love Yer Brain," an obscure early cut from 1986's Oh My Gawd!!! that they hadn't played in the past five years, the confetti cannons fired once again as the band broke into their signature closing song, "Do You Realize??"
As I walked elatedly out of the Armory past people celebrating and making confetti angels on the floor, all while covered in confetti myself, I knew that I had experienced something unique, a truly excellent concert from an absolutely amazing band.