Live Review, 2/21/12: The Flaming Lips Explode The Soft Bulletin Into a Confetti Orgasm at Bimbo's

The Flaming Lips (performing The Soft Bulletin)

Release the Sunbird

Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012

Bimbo's 365 Club / Noise Pop 20th Anniversary Opening Night

Better than: Any other Flaming Lips show. Possibly any other show.

“Race for the Prize,” preceded as it was by a long, tension-building wash of piano and noise, did not start like a mere song. It erupted into being, like some tantric climax: A perfect, immaculate feeling rushing the blue-blackness inside Bimbo's into a hurricane of confetti and a bright carnival of colored light. That bendy little melody — humble, a little wounded, but hopeful — washed over the room; Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne grinningly bashed his baton into anything nearby; and the 20th Anniversary of the Noise Pop festival, San Francisco's best showcase of independent music, began in ecstasy.

Last night's show never got better than those first few minutes of raining colored paper, balloons bouncing overhead, and the thundering optimism of The Soft Bulletin's first track. But it stayed great. Faced with the challenge of performing a beloved but deeply melancholic album on a happy occasion (at least for those who got tickets!), the Flaming Lips struck an ideal balance. They demanded a noisy celebration, but were frank — maybe too frank for some — about the fact that the evening's entertainment consisted of “songs born out of despair and sadness,” as Coyne put it.

 

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