The Flaming Lips and Tame Impala

Live at Agganis Arena

Tame Impala Live

Agganis Arena is abuzz on the floor and in the stands while the stage where college students usually puck around are set for one of the most formidable triple bills of the fall concert season. It’s the new wave in making bank in the concert industry– big acts are being packaged together to form makeshift one-night festivals that, in this case, made for a very age-diverse audience from college freshmen there for some pseudo-psych rock to working stiffs there for their twenty-sixth Lips concert. It’s a mixed bag, but the acts brought the enthusiasm and the hits to make for a very happy audience.

Running a full four and a half hours, the show kicked off with Sean Lennon’s pet project with girlfriend Charlotte Muhl, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger. The pair played a string of songs from their Mark Ronson-produced debut Jardin De Luxembourg, 2010 release Acoustic Sessions, and selections from Le Carotte Bleu, a more edge electronic vibe that is only sold at their live shows. The Lennon in the lead singer is obvious in the acoustic work, but Le Carotte Bleu is what truly shined in this set– with song titles like “Comic Strip” and “Walt Disney Sitting in the Shade Drinking Cordials.”

Our artist of the week, Tame Impala (with whom we were able to catch before the show), brought the heat with an hour-long set of their signature psych-rock sound, the stage completely set with the audio-responsive light display they’ve toted on tour for the better part of a year– it’s tough to describe, but sort of like Window’s screensaver took acid. Lead singer and guitar Kevin Parker let his vocals soar through dreamy tunes “Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind?,” “Solitude is Bliss,” and “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards,” then picked up the pace for signature tracks “Elephant” and “Half Full Glass of Wine.” Tame Impala are at an interesting point in their career, with a prolific touring schedule but only two albums to their name, but made their relatively small library work for them with a re-tooled set list from earlier in the year, and all the enthusiasm and brilliance that those two albums (2010’s Innerspeaker and 2012’s Lonerism) possess.

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Forty-five minutes and an enormous machine with LED-lightstrung wires later, The Flaming Lips, led forth in a metallic blue suit by Wayne Coyne, opening with “Look…The Sun Is Rising” strung together with “The Terror” before easing into bigger hits like “Silver Trembling Hands” and and “Butterfly, How Long It Takes To Die.” A notorious showman, Coyne played into the stage-machine to the fullest, elevated a full four feet above the rest of the band on a robotic podium, constantly shrouded in smoke. Despite the smoke and mirrors (literally), he constantly interacted with audience members and asked for support throughout the show. Before “How Long It Takes To Die,” he asked the audience to keep him excited to be onstage.

“This next song is a sad one,” he warned the audience. “And we have to have it sad. But when you start to hear it getting sad, we need you to scream and keep us going, okay?” The audience was only too happy to oblige, even when the request was repeated later in the set. After “All We Have Is Now” (and a reminder from Coyne that yes, it really is true) the group left for a moment but returned after a moment to close the show with a tear-jerking rendition of “Do You Realize?” and “A Spoonful Weighs a Ton.”

To the audience’s dismay, Tame Impala and The Flaming Lips didn’t share the stage as many double bills will do, but Coyne could not have been more thrilled to have them along for the ride. At many points in the night, he would interrupt the Lips’ set to thank they audience for coming and marvel at how fortunate he felt to be touring with two other great bands– it’s the flip side of the same childish spirit that got him in trouble for some cheeky and, ahem, lewd behavior on Instagram last week. The good news? Word on the street is the two bands will be releasing an EP of Tame Impala covering Flaming Lips and vice versa slotted to be released inside of a few weeks.

Between the three bands, every audience member went home with a new favorite song, sore feet, and a hankering to stay up til three in the morning listening to “Half Full Glass of Wine” on repeat. What more could a person ask for?

By Jamie Loftus
Photos by Chris Paredes

If you liked this, check out:
The Dodos Live at the Paradise
Life Is Good Festival Day 2

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