4/20! The Flaming Lips! Space bubbles! Love Yer Brain edibles! MAGNET photographer/writer Wes Orshoski had only one question while driving cross country to Oklahoma City to bear witness to Wayne Coyne’s greatest show on COVID Earth: “Do I stand a chance?”
What it’s like to attend a Flaming Lips space-bubble show? Fucking hot! And like I had some sort of super-joyful acid-hippie fever dream.
There was the lovable Lips freaks dressed up as Santa and fuzzy day-glo aliens already in the parking lot when I got there—as the band could still be heard inside the venue soundchecking its first (I think) complete performance of the new American Head album. There was the signing of the waivers and the temperature checks, the pre-show merch shopping (you were to buy and dump the items back in your car) and bathroom breaks (as lil baby Bloom darted around the venue) before everyone lined up per pod and bubble row (each pod with a max capacity of three). There was the hoots and screeches when each row got called, like we were finally getting on a rollercoaster. The struggling to wiggle in the bubble and the blowing up of the bubble. Then we’re zipped up.
Oh, man, this is crazy. Oh, man, this is awesome. Oh, man it’s hot. Hahaha. It’s fogging up. I’m sweating. We’re dancing. We’re singing. I’m OK, I can deal. I’m gonna deal. Wayne’s already onstage welcoming us into our womb-orbs for the night.
When the Lips first announced these space-bubble shows, I was in! Twenty-two hours drive, no problem. Bought a bubble. Second vax schedule—that was a problem. Had to relinquish my bubble and pray for one last bubble gig. Finally, it was announced: the 10th and final. New bubble ticket bought. NYC-Cleveland-Cincinnati-Louisville-St. Louis-Pawhuska-Oklahoma City.
Countdown, lights down and “Race For The Prize”! Oh my gawd!!! “Two Scientists”! Perfect! Then “Yoshimi.” Everyone’s dancing and bouncing. Confetti and beach balls! Giant pink robot and kaleidoscope screens! Men with leaf blowers and extension cords.
It’s getting hot in here. We’re fogging up. I’m taking my pants off. OMG, Santa’s smoking up inside his bubble. Santa’s down! Is he OK? Ah, I think he’s just baked. Can those guys even see through their bubble? Hey leaf-blower guy, right here! “Unzip the bubble just a couple inches.” OK! Leaf blower is inserted and fills our bubble with fresh air! Oh my gawd! Fresh air! We can see through the bubble again.
Wayne! Hey, Wayne! Damn, I need water! Water! Can barely see Steven. Michael not at all (why do I think he prefers it that way?) Why didn’t we get the Love Yer Brain edibles? Thought they would have them here. Entire American Head album. We shoulda gotten the Brain edibles. I’m dripping. Oh, my gawd. Hey leaf-blower dude! More fresh air! Thank god.
“Just hang in there,” Wayne says. “Just a couple more songs.” I can do this! Can I do this? I’m gonna do this! So happy. This is so fun. Can’t believe it’s happening, that I’m here! “She Don’t Use Jelly”!!!!! Yes! Inflatable rainbow into disco ball! “Do You Realize??”!
Damn, it’s ending—it’s so beautiful. This was so cool. More confetti, bouncing balls. Wayne’s gone. Zipper’s open. Holy shit, this thing is melting around me. I’m out, birthed like an alien. Oh, shit, now I’m freezing. Doors are open. Must get coat on. It’s freezing outside.
Run to the car, put heat on. Can’t believe that just happened. Now for the love of Joe Carter Boulevard, where the hell can I get something to eat? Where’s Wayne’s Long John Silver’s when you need it?
Love you, Wayne. Love you, guys. Shout out to the homies at the Criterion for keeping me from passing out.
So glad we made the trip. A unique, awesomely bizarro experience.