Credit: Leslie Dinaberg

A rainbow bright sensory spectacle of luster and light, last week’s joyful performance by The Flaming Lips at the Arlington was one of those shows that is so dreamlike, and so full of wonder and animation, that it makes you feel a little stoned — even when you’re perfectly sober. 

Lead singer Wayne Coyne opened the evening by blowing himself into his now familiar clear plastic bubble (an entertaining innovation that originated during the pandemic and seems to have stuck), and then bouncing his way (literally) into an upbeat set of familiar tunes — amplified by dayglow colored video projections and streaming lyrics throughout —  from “Be Free, A Way,” and “Silver Trembling Hands,” to “Do You Realize,” before he happily bounded out of the plastic bubble and into a Wonder Woman onesie, which he wore with at least as much aplomb as any trick-or-treater I’ve seen. 

“The thing we really missed [during the pandemic shut-downs for live performances] was what we just did,” said Coyne, who introduced songs with stories throughout the night. “Doing dumb shit together … and helping to make this room the happiest, most enthusiastic, joyous room in the whole world.” This was followed by Coyne egging on the audience to bark, scream, and howl, as well as a series of confetti cannons, bubbles, lights, fog, unexpected gadgets, and still more blow-up toys — including an inflatable rainbow and a giant (by giant I mean at least two stories high giant) inflatable robot for the song “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.”  

He danced with a swirling silver metallic scarf for “Assassins of Youth,” among others, and encouraged the audience to scream along, “because it makes everything better, you know.” We screamed, and he was right, it is fun. 

While most of the Flaming Lips’ songs were from the 90s, I particularly enjoyed their version of Madonna’s 80s hit “Borderline.” And of course, I loved “She Don’t Use Jelly,” which still holds up as having some of the most entertaining and memorable lyrics of modern pop songs.

Though I could have done with a little less navel gazing banter by Coyne (perhaps an introduction of the band instead), all in all it was an energetic, fun, and highly entertaining show. It was bright, it was silly, and it was indeed a trip. Kind of a cross between the Beatles animated Yellow Submarine movie, The Bugaloos and H.R. Pufnstuf. And it was capped off by what was certainly the highlight (at least for me): a giant silver balloon letters spelling out “Fuck Yeah, Santa Barbara.”


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