|All photos by Tim Bottchen|
Written by Jason Gonulsen
The show hasn’t begun, but Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips is out on the stage anyway, pacing with the roadies, hands in his hair one moment, extended, with fists pumping toward the crowd the next. Because this is what Wayne Coyne does — he doesn’t take the road less taken, he takes the one you or I don’t even see, the one requiring a common entrance but grand presence. His vision, often copied, is unique.
Coyne is so dedicated to whatever he does that in the 80’s and 90’s he gave Long John Silver’s 13 years of his time. This was of course when his band hadn’t yet written “Do You Realize???” or “She Don’t Use Jelly.” So he served, cooked, and ate bad food. He was even once held at gunpoint, on the floor, certain he was going to die, but still thinking of a way he could knife the fucker with the weapon.
Wayne Coyne is not like you or me, or even like anyone in his band.
During last night’s show at The Pageant, Coyne was so consumed with the scene and noise around him that, after finishing a song, he honestly blurted, “I forgot we were playing.” This was not met with a nervous giggle or even the briefest of pauses. This was Wayne Coyne unguarded, bulletproof even without a vest.
The criticism around a Flaming Lips show these days is that it’s more of the same — confetti, inflatable aliens, mushrooms, rainbows…even the goddamn sun greeted us for a bit. I get the second thoughts and the ambivalence toward it all, that maybe it’s more show and less music. Or maybe people are just pissed that the Flaming Lips haven’t matched the genius of 2002’s Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. It’s probably different for everyone.
I don’t think the sideshow matters much at this point, though. People who go to a Flaming Lips show expect it now, and I’m pretty sure we all can agree that the novelty is long gone. But they keep the lights and the colors and the balloons that spell out “FUCK YEAH ST LOUIS” because as untenable as this circus probably once seemed, well, why stop now? Helium is pretty cheap, no? Perhaps I don’t want to know.
And when the colorful fire does start to burn out, Coyne can still rally the troops with the twirl of his fingers and an urgent, “COME ON COME ON COME ON” directed toward the crowd. The man just knows when the battery needs a charge. Remember, 13 years at Long John Silver’s, folks.
Near the end, before a cover of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds,” Coyne reaches for his most beautiful and cheesy number, “Do You Realize???” In one form or another, this song was used in countless commercials, billboards…shit, multiple CEOs probably thought it was a good idea to use its words in a PowerPoint presentation.
Hell if I care. I still believe in Coyne, and I still believe its words.
Do you realize that you have the most beautiful face?
Do you realize that happiness makes you cry?
Do you realize that everyone you know someday will die?
Life moves fast, and maybe that’s why people keep coming back.