The Flaming Lips + Le Butcherettes Concert Review
MTelus August 20th, 2018
If The Flaming Lips were a religion, it would only take one sermon to be converted. This is by far the easiest review I have to write, as I can simply sum up my evening with one word: INSANE
I will, however, elaborate more on my experience and recent conversion.
First, my confession. I could scarcely tell you two song titles from The Flaming Lips. I vaguely remember “She Don’t Use Jelly” and that pretty much sums up my knowledge of the band.
When I heard Le Butcherettes were coming to town…I requested the show. Teresa Suárez Cosío, better known as Teri Gender Bender founded Le Butcherettes in Guadalajara, Mexico. There is a special place in my heart for that city, particularly Centro Histórico, which is the Old Montreal of Guadalajara. In the five years, I lived in Mexico, I’m sure we visited this beautiful city yearly. I would of course also stopover in the town of Tequila, on our way back to Bucerias, where we stayed.
“A Raw Youth” is the album that hooked me. There is a raw power (it’s in the name!) on that album that I thought would make for an interesting performance.
Teri, the alter ego that is embedded with power from the bullying, racism and female inequality that plagued her youth. Her stare is often compared to Siouxsie Sioux, and I felt its power while she scanned the audience, seemingly locking onto my eyes.
The shy Teresa is transformed on stage, a contained explosion within her is let out in bursts of power, fueled but the memories of the powerless women in Mexico and her own past.
She walked out in an authentic Chichimeca headdress, the Mexican version of the Barbarians, wild nomadic hunters, who’s attire her grandmother wore while playing music in Mexico. A thick painted red bar crossing her face, she battled whatever was inside her like a fearless warrior.
The set was intense. Teri reminded me, at times, to a Mick Jagger, who just managed to spend his entire $100 Starbucks Gift Card on caffeinated drinks before the set.
No longer hiding from her past, she spoke in Spanish between songs, alternated between her keyboards and guitar and at times, pounded her chest in a way that Celine Dion could never match.
“My Mallely” was satisfying to hear, while “Spider Waves” was intensely heavy and “Stab my Back” featured the chest beating and that piercing stare.
They finished with a song that would describe their performance: “Wrecking Ball”, the Miley Cyrus cover, but without the Twerking and way more wrecking. As the last words are shouted inside MTelus, Teri literally let the mic drop. BOOM…what a way to start us off.
The Flaming Lips Concert Review
Before this insanely powerful set, the mood was very light. It was like I was just invited to a costume party, but nobody told me to dress up. Some were dressed up as funky astronauts, others smeared paint on their faces or simply had flashing lights of some kind on their person. I even saw some children dressed up including a mini astronaut on his first rock mission.
Cardi B was playing on the P.A., so the mood quickly turned back into a party waiting to happen. What I was about to experience would be like nothing I have EVER experienced at a live concert.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If so, the visuals & props tonight would be enough to surpass War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy (apparently 1,225 pages in the first edition).
The lights dimmed the band starts us off with 2001: A Space Odyssey song, lesser known as “Also sprach Zarathustra” announcing the dawn of the Biggest Party in Town!
Imagine you lived in a bubble (Wayne Coyne was in one…but more on that later)…and Bubble Boy never got to attend any of the other kid’s parties. Now, at age 57, you create a party to make up for all the missed ones. That is what I attended tonight.
Lady Gaga has her Little Monsters, but Flaming Lips have their Little Weirdos (I just made this up.). I’m giving a big nod of respect for the Weirdos in the audience and on stage tonight. Letting your freak flag fly takes courage, but when done within the safe confines of a venue with fellow Weirdos…it just seems so right.
We would see personalized balloons for Montreal (let’s just say it contained an expletive), more smoke than a Vaping competition, enough confetti canons to keep a fort secure, large blow-up characters, giant laser hands and much more.
Steven Drozd sported a multicolored cape. Although we did not witness any superhuman feats such as flying, we did experience the multi-instrumentalist superpower he wields.
After that rousing opening, “Race for the Prize” started the evening’s festivities. Once done, a large blowup Robot appeared, looking like our Just for Laughs mascot, but on the edge between scary and something you want to hug. This was, of course, for “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1”. This song, I would later find out, about a young woman named Yoshimi who is battling against Cancer. Her enemies are the rogue cells that attack her body.
Rather than being a downer song, Wayne encouraged all to sing-along, to get the party started so to speak. In fact, apart from cramming every single kids party into this show, he also crammed every campfire sing-along that he might have missed, minus the fire…only smoke.
Yes, the Weirdos sang along creating a chain linked fence of love, joy and exuberance. Within those confines, we felt elated by the visuals and more importantly the musical genius behind this band with incredibly silly sounding song titles.
Don’t let the titles fool you, this book cover shall not be read as a comedy, but of a dedication to art with 35 years of hard work behind them. Let us not forget they won three Grammy Awards and beat Jay-z’s Guinness World Record of most live concerts in a 24 hour period. If you are curious, the answer is eight.
I did my best to do the Air Karate Chop while singing “Hey! Hey!”, the part we were assigned to do.
Wayne was next seen with giant hands, while the band played “The Star-Spangled Banner” with the help of a Peter Frampton styled Talk Box. No sooner did I question the large wires plugged into a prop Violent Femmes could borrow for “Blister in the Sun”, a collection of laser beams shot out of these hands. As the song reached its climax, the hands focused on the monstrous Disco Ball to rain down beams of light on a delighted crowd.
“The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song (With All Your Power)” was another easy sing-along, but it was also greeted with a small, polite mosh pit behind me.
During a rather rousing instrumental part, Wayne suddenly appeared to our left, sitting on a life-size Unicorn wearing blow-up rainbow wings. You guessed it, the song was “There Should Be Unicorns.” The Flaming Lips apparently are very specific about the kind of Unicorn that is required. Sorry, green-eyed Unicorns, but you have been ocularly profiled.
So begins the Unicorn procession snaking through the crowd. Gladly, without the use of snakes. Wayne connected with his fans, near and far from the stage, with high fives as his magical ride unfolded.
The next song hit #55 on Billboard’s Hot 100, their first mainstream hit, the one song I actually knew, sadly. “She Don’t Use Jelly”
As Wayne next entered a life-size inflatable hamster ball, the classic Bowie cover “Space Oddity” was performed, with Wayne rolling above the crowd towards a pedestal at the back of the venue, where he sang about Major Tom, lost in space. I told you there was a bubble boy moment! As the song neared it last Chorus, he hovered back and landed safely on the stage to finish the song. Insane.
When two men inserted themselves into giant bloodshot eyeballs, Wayne took up giant inflatable lips. Fans knew it was for “The W.A.N.D.” but done with a more edgy sound and strobe lights.
The set ended with “A Spoonful Weighs a Ton” which teaches us about density. A spoonful of a neutron star weights approximately 10 billion tons, which makes me feel a little better when I hit the scale.
While waiting for the eventual encore, I looked at my feet, and I could barely see the top of my shoes for the floor was covered in confetti. I’m sure many of us will be finding confetti in the most awkward places for weeks to come!
Under an inflatable rainbow, the band returned for an encore with “Do You Realize??” If you could only listen to one song from the band, to get a taste of their style, I would suggest you choose this one. One commenter online called it “Imagine” for the 21stcentury.
It was hard to leave this giant bubble of love and celebration, with young and old and all those in between, joined in a common party with fellow Weirdos.
I experienced a 2-hour psychedelic happy party, without the use of any substances…I didn’t even have a beer! I joined the voyage and experienced the most insane show I have ever attended. As our photographer, Kieron said, this was a Bell Centre show done at MTelus.
Also sparch Zarathustra, OP. 30
Race For The Prize
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1
The Star-Spangled Banner
The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song (With All Your Power)
There Should Be Unicorns
She Don’t Use Jelly
Space Oddity (David Bowie Cover)
Are You A Hypnotist??
A Spoonful Weights a Ton
Do You Realize??