Friday, July 29, 2011

Review: Weezer / The Flaming Lips @ PNC Bank Arts Center, 7/28

Editor's Note: Wow, you guys. Wow.

by Geanna Barlaam and James MacFie


A recipe for Nostalgia.

Combine the following in an outdoor setting:
-1 Part amphitheatre you’ve been going to since you were 9 years old
-2 Parts bands you’ve been listening to since you were 12 years old
-1 Part concert-going-buddy-for-life, who you’ve been seeing shows with since you were 15 years old

Mix well and serve with the chance of rain.

Yes, friends, it finally happened. Weezer and The Flaming Lips performed together on the same stage for about 3.5 hours, giving us and our adolescent selves something we never knew we wanted. But before we get down and dirty, we would be remiss if we didn’t at least mention the opening band.

Yeasayer opened and played about 4 (or was it 5?) songs from their most recent album, Odd Blood. If you are familiar with Yeasayer, then you know exactly what that sounded like. If you are not familiar with this band, all you need to know is that they are one of the most derivative, hyped-up bands of the last couple years, playing music that sounds at once like 1980’s synthesized pop, reggae, and attempted psychedelic rock. While this mix may seem appealing to you, Yeasayer puts these sounds together with such obvious, intentional efforts, that it comes off like they’re going through their own musically nostalgic check-list.

Now let's move on to the big guns! With not even 30 minutes for sound check and set-up, Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne was on stage, riling up the crowd and explaining how the night would unfold. No one in the audience (except for the very savvy writers of this review) seemed to know what was in store, so he laid out the plan very clearly: “We’re gonna play some songs, then Weezer will come out and play some songs, then we’ll all get on stage together for the end... we’ll see how it goes.”

It was obvious that neither band really knew what was going to happen, but their apparent confidence in the other’s performances was what would keep the night going strong. We were promised, however, that shit was gonna get weird.

Announced by two naked women on a back screen as the “greatest union of all time,” every band member emerged from a slit in the backdrop and strolled confidently down a small staircase and onto the stage. Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo joined Coyne and rolled onto the audience, each in their very own matching space bubbles. As the bands covered Black Sabbath’s 'Sweet Leaf', they bounced in and out of the excited slash bewildered crowd while balloons and confetti and streamers rained down.

Each band alternated and played about 5 short sets, with the tempos and visuals changing drastically for each. Weezer picked the majority of their tracks from the fan favorites, Blue Album and Pinkerton, and played only one popular single from their last 4 releases. The Flaming Lips performed mostly from their more recent catalog, only playing a couple of songs pre-Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.

When The Flaming Lips were on stage, it was a circus. There were explosions, smoke machines, people dressed up like bears and sea creatures, 2 dozen young girls dressed in slutty Dorothy outfits, and the ceaseless collage of screen images pounding into your brain. But this circus was not chaos; it was instead one of the most well-choreographed and visually explosive shows we have ever seen. The Flaming Lips have clearly spent the last 10 years finding a way to embrace their fame as an arena rock band, despite their basically being a group of frazzled, psychedelic stoners. Coyne’s voice, while sometimes strained, came through the frenzy as honest and commanding, a fuzzy haired sun around which all other band members could orbit. After an acoustic version of 'Yoshimi', the band came back to host a sing-a-long of 'Where is the Light', the words appearing out of constellations in trippy-karaoke form. Their last set featured only one song, 'Do You Realize', a stripped-down, drawn-out version during which Coyne seemed to be on the edge of happy, almost overwhelmed tears.

In the midst of this acid trip pounced Weezer's power-chord-palette-cleanser, a tasty small bowl of no-frills rock. Compared to The Flaming Lips, they sounded tight and succinct, with no bells or whistles or light shows. Immediately setting the tone and raising our hopes was 'El Scorcho', the now recognized classic track from an album that Cuomo once refused to play live. Another set brought 'Suzanne', a scream-inducing song from one of our all-time favorite films, Mallrats. (We have never heard this song played live before, and yes, we literally screamed.) And in possibly the best moment of the night, Weezer burned through 'Island in the Sun', our favorite B-side, 'You Gave Your Love to me Softly', and finally... FINALLY... a cover of RADIOHEAD’S 'PARANOID ANDROID.'


Now what? What could possibly make this show any better? After a few more sets we found out: how about a two-bands-on-stage-clusterfuck of 90's faves?! The bands united to give us 'She Don't Use Jelly' and 'Undone - The Sweater Song'. They were the loudest, most triumphant songs of the night and the audience lost its shit. Everyone hugged. From there, it was lights on/show over - what would be the point of an encore?

Driving down the Parkway home (sober, sigh...) the discussion centered around whether or not this experiment had been a success. For these writers, the answer was an obvious yes. However, our fellow audience members (fist-pumping NJ meatheads drinking $13 Coors Lights), were only there for Weezer. We noticed a steady stream of people exiting their seats whenever The Flaming Lips came on to play. After one particularly strong set by Weezer the crowd chanted for their return as Coyne took the stage. Was this issue a NJ-centric problem? Or are these bands just too different to share the spotlight?

The energy levels and momentum of each set made for jarring transitions and a few awkward moments, but as fans of both bands, it's difficult to say what, if anything, could have been done better. The gutsy humility and artistic camaraderie it took to pull this off cannot be understated. This show proved that without ego, two diverse, major bands can come together and provide a unique experience for themselves and their audience where the sum is greater than its parts.

It is a true and established fact that both of these groups can impregnate women from afar with their sweaty sexual rock and roll. That being said, we would keep a close eye on the newspapers nine months from now, as hospitals will be filled to the brim with glow-in-the-dark bubble babies sporting thick framed glasses.

Go get your ticket for the Jones Beach reenactment tonight, since who knows if this shit will ever go down again.


Check out the setlist, the rest of Geanna and Jamie's lawn photos, and fan video of the joint "She Don't Use Jelly" performance below. And let's all give our reviewers a collective "Awwww" for being "concert-going-buddies-for-life."

The Flaming Lips and Weezer

1. Space Bubble Intro
2. “Sweet Leaf” (Black Sabbath cover)

The Flaming Lips

3. "Worm Mountain”
4. "Silver Trembling Hands”
5. "Yeah Yeah Yeah Song”


6. “Hash Pipe”
7. “El Scorcho”
8. “Perfect Situation”

The Flaming Lips

9. “Is David Bowie Dying?”
10. “See The Leaves”
11. “Laser Hands Jam”


12. “My Name is Jonas”
13. “Suzanne”
14. “The Good Life”

The Flaming Lips

15. “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1″
16. “Ego’s Last Stand”
17. “Pompeii am Götterdämmerung”


18. “Island in the Sun”
19. “You Gave Your Love to Me Softly”
20. “Paranoid Android” (Radiohead cover)”

The Flaming Lips

21. “What Is The Light?”
22. “The Observer” (Extended Jam)”


23. “Pork and Beans”
24. “Tired of Sex”
25. “Say It Ain’t So”
26. “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To”

The Flaming Lips

27. “Do You Realize??”


28. “Buddy Holly”
29. “Only in Dreams”

Weezer and The Flaming Lips

30. “She Don’t Use Jelly”
31. “Undone – The Sweater Song”

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