ARCHIVE of District of Cacophony

April 20, 2009 | REVIEWS

Flaming Lips @ Earth Day Green Apple Festival, National Mall, 4/19/09

I’d never seen the Flaming Lips before. I really like them but was never too concerned about seeing them live. I’ve seen them on tv, I’ve seen them on the internet, and I feel that their live show is mostly an entertainment show, akin to a Jonas Bros. or Miley Cyrus kind of thing. As in, lots of spectacle, lots of effects, lots of silliness, but not a lot of actual performing. Entertainment has its place but I usually prefer to see music where I can watch people just perform and not wear giant costumes.

But I was glad to get the chance to see them for free. The weather was dicey — cold and just starting to rain — but it was pretty fun. Wayne Coyne’s voice seemed to be shot and the crowd was occasionally annoying (too many stoned hippie kids bitching about the speakers) but overall it was fun.

They played mainly their most famous songs, but I almost started to cry when they followed up some antiwar speechifying with a gorgeous, mournful version of “Taps.” I think the Lips are at their best when they are the saddest; “happiness makes you cry” they remind us. I almost wish the band would ditch all the silly antics and puppets and concentrate on breaking the world’s heart instead of trying to be circus performers. But entertainment has its role, too.

Here’s a youtube version of “Taps”… worth waiting through the speech: