Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne knows a thing or two about making the most of each moment and enlarging it tenfold.
That was the case as he and his Oklahoma-based band sucked last night's Riverside audience into its psychedelic, brightly colored world full of confetti, enormous multi-colored balloons, interestingly costumed characters and, of course, its mind melting (and sometimes psychedelia) rock/pop music.
Even before a note was played by either his band or opener Stardeath and White Dwarfs, the charismatic frontman, beaming with life, made a surprise appearance, leading to rabid cheering from those who had arrived early. Not only was that a signal of bigger things to come, but the stage area itself also looked like something from an amusement park, decked out with a half-moon screen with a border of lights.
When it was time for Coyne and the band to enter the stage, they did so in style. Suddenly a sparkling, multi-colored naked woman appeared on the screen (a common scene during the set) and began to sway and dance as the roar of the crowd and band began to pick up steam.
Emerging from a door in the screen that had started to show a static/film background, the band members came one at a time down a ramp to the stage area.
Coyne appeared and began to stretch out the infamous hamster-bubble ball. Before you knew it he was rolling towards the many outstretch hands that had crowded in front.
As he was getting passed around by the grabbing hands the band roared out into a furry. Once Coyne got back on stage he directed the band into one of its latest songs, initiated by a sea of yellow and orange confetti shooting up and pouring down on the spectators. During the early part of the set Coyne used the handle of his bubble guitar to pop the balloons.
The band's set for the night -- while competing for attention with the band's theatrics -- featured many songs of last year's "Embryonic" as well as previous albums like 2006's "At War With the Mystics." Guitar solos came out as if they were in a time warp with attempt to make them sound as big as possible (drums too, especially in "See the Leaves.")
Through it all, the crowd was cheering at the top of its lungs, as the band featured songs like "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song (With All Your Power)," "Convinced of the Hex," and "In the Morning of the Magician" (a song about love, which was a common theme in Coyne's stories between songs.)
Midway the band played scaled back versions of a few songs like "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" and "She Don't Use Jelly" (the latter Coyne says is more than sex, drugs and rock and roll). Coyne kept constant interaction with the crowd, telling stories and facts about the songs as well as giving a heartfelt urging for the audience to love and not hate and to enjoy the value of life -- something that came to a peak in the band's final song of their encore "Do You Realize??"
One fan dressed in a chicken costume body surfed the crowd and somehow made it on stage. He gave a hug to Coyne before jumping back into crowd. to which Coyne exclaimed how wild and crazy the crowd and party was, clearly happy that he was giving them a great time.
He used whatever he could find on stage including maracas, smoke machines and giant hands that shot lasers to do whatever he could to improve the party he was throwing.
Besides the previously mentioned "Do You Realize??" the band brought out "Brain Damage" and "Eclipse," two songs on their latest Dark Sides of the Moon Pink Floyd cover album. If there's any band that's a modern day Pink Floyd I think the Flaming Lips would qualify.
Opener Stardeath and White Dwarfs held their own, with a similar psychedelic rock sound to the Flaming Lips through a little more wide ranged. They opened with a Black Sabbath cover which clearly got everyone's attention and then fired off into their own material.
Kliph Scurlock, drummer for Flaming Lips, joined them on an additional drum set. During most of the set Coyne was cheering them on the side of the stage, using a long piece of confetti as if conducting them.
Coyne was definitely invested in seeing that the show didn't have a lull and making sure Milwaukee was given a party that will live on past the smoky, psychedelic world that was created last night.