Live Review: The Flaming Lips @ The Anthem — 11/16/21

The Flaming Lips perform at The Anthem in Washington, D.C.
The Flaming Lips perform at The Anthem on Nov. 16, 2021. (Photo by Kyle Gustafson)

Loved by audiences across the country, equally loathed (I assume) by a large number of venue cleaning staffs, The Flaming Lips brought their blow up robots and confetti canons to The Anthem recently.

Wayne Coyne and Co. have long been a concert photographers dream (certainly no mid-2000s concert portfolio was complete without a shot of Wayne crowd surfing in his plastic bubble) and the tour behind their 2020 album American Head was no different. The first four songs featured confetti blasts, a blow up rainbow as wide as The Anthem’s stage width and a huge blow up pink robot (for obvious reasons). Not many bands can get away with playing an all-out anthem like “Do You Realize” second in the set but the Lips do things their own way.

On Nov. 16, the set leaned heavily on American Head tunes sprinkled with older faves like “She Don’t Use Jelly,”“Yoshimi,” “Race For the Prize,” and an absolutely majestic version of “Feeling Yourself Disintegrate.”  Wayne stayed in the middle of the stage all night, mostly singing inside his trademark plastic bubble due to the pandemic. He emerged a few times but quickly donned and performed wearing a mask. While it definitely cut down on spontaneity, it didn’t affect the show otherwise.

For me the two standout tunes of the night were “Assasination of the Sun” and  “Sunship Balloons,” two tunes from the 2003 EP Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell, something I listened to quite a bit when it was released but haven’t thought about in years. I love it when that happens at a show. 

Stream American Head by The Flaming Lips on Spotify:

The other great part of the show actually happened before the music even started. Wayne started the show releasing a mechanical bird to fly around the venue. Before he brought the band out on stage he told the audience how grateful he was that they were there and that everyone in the venue was there to have fun. But to do that we all had to look out for one another and if anyone felt any stress or danger during the show that the band would happily stop the music and fix the situation. He also thanked the audience for wearing masks during the show as it was a sign of respect for your fellow audience members. It’s a small thing but an incredible scene setter and I wish more bands would do things like that.

It’s hard not to admire The Flaming Lips. They have been writing and performing songs for over 30 years that mainly deal with drugs, the cosmos and love but they continually come up with new ways to amaze and entertain. Long may they continue.

Setlist:

My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion
Do You Realize?
Assassins of Youth
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1
Flowers of Neptune 6
Assassination of the Sun
You Have to Be Joking (Autopsy of the Devil’s Brain)
She Don’t Use Jelly
Silver Trembling Hands
Will You Return / When You Come Down
Sunship Balloons
Dinosaurs on the Mountain
Feeling Yourself Disintegrate

Encore:
Worm Mountain
All We Have Is Now
Race for the Prize

Here are some photos of The Flaming Lips performing at The Anthem on Nov. 16, 2021. All photos copyright and courtesy of Kyle Gustafson.

The Flaming Lips perform at The Anthem in Washington, D.C.
The Flaming Lips perform at The Anthem in Washington, D.C.
The Flaming Lips perform at The Anthem in Washington, D.C.
The Flaming Lips perform at The Anthem in Washington, D.C.
The Flaming Lips perform at The Anthem in Washington, D.C.
The Flaming Lips perform at The Anthem in Washington, D.C.
The Flaming Lips perform at The Anthem in Washington, D.C.
The Flaming Lips perform at The Anthem in Washington, D.C.
The Flaming Lips perform at The Anthem in Washington, D.C.
The Flaming Lips perform at The Anthem in Washington, D.C.
FlamingLips-AnthemDC-7870
The Flaming Lips perform at The Anthem in Washington, D.C.
The Flaming Lips perform at The Anthem in Washington, D.C.
The Flaming Lips perform at The Anthem in Washington, D.C.
The Flaming Lips perform at The Anthem in Washington, D.C.
The Flaming Lips perform at The Anthem in Washington, D.C.
The Flaming Lips perform at The Anthem in Washington, D.C.

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