Bonnaroo 2010: The Flaming Lips Turn to the Dark Side
Last night, The Flaming Lips took the Which stage at midnight for a start-to-finish performance of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. The crowd was thrumming with energy—glowsticks rocketing through the air, balloons and beach balls bouncing off of eager, waiting hands. By the time the band took the stage, the noise from the thousands of people gathered for the show was almost enough to blow out my eardrums.
They opened with a hodgepodge of old and new tracks—“She Don’t Use Jelly;” “Yeah Yeah Yeah Song;” “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1.” Their material from Embryonic in particular translated extremely well to the live experience: gritty guitars, scream-sung vocals and all. They closed the first half of their set with a crowd-shaking singalong of “Do You Realize??” and took a ten minute breather. (Wayne Coyne looked like he needed it—a camera on his microphone was broadcasting his sweaty, ecstatic face on the gigantic background screen.)
And then, the opening heartbeats of “Speak to Me / Breathe” pierced the buzz, and a hush descended on the throng. The Lips returned to the stage with Stardeath and the White Dwarves in tow, laserlights shining through a pea-soup blanket of artificial fog.
It takes guts to cover an album as legendary as Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety, but the Lips and Stardeath seemed totally possessed by a practiced ease throughout the performance. “Time” was a punky, gritty take on the original’s bluesy stomp; “Money” thundered with the swagger and intensity of a T.I. track, Floyd by-way-of rap-rock; “Us and Them” sunk deep into the track’s familiar acid haze before exploding with furious, blistering guitar riffs. And throughout, Coyne leaped and screamed all over the stage like a man possessed.
It was undoubtedly the best show I’ve seen at Bonnaroo thus far (though we’ll have to see how Jay-Z does tonight before I make a final evaluation). And it’s definitely reason enough for me to go search out a vinyl copy of Dark Side when I get home.