KXT's Summer Cut Gexa Energy Pavilion Friday, June 1
See also: The fans of Summer Cut.
"What the [expletive] is that?" - Gexa's finest usher, on the stylistic motivations of its patrons.
When the Flaming Lips come to town, people tend to shed their inhibitions. For the guy in the penguin costume and the girl in a coonskin cap hula-hooping her heart out, Friday night was more than an opportunity for self-expression; it was a jovial celebration of music, culture and a local public radio station whose commitment to independent music has been a blessing for this city.
The celebration commenced with an exercise in face-stuffing (because nothing says "jovial" like a steaming hot pepperoni pie) from Doughboy's Pizza, one of the numerous local food trucks and vendors present. It continued with the oddball reggae stylings of Ontario's Walk Off the Earth and their viral-as-hell Gotye cover, and continued with local darlings Telegraph Canyon, who, despite battling some minor sound issues, had nearly every early attendee singing in unison.
Never known for their enthusiastic live show, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah still managed to put on an enjoyable, if a bit rushed, set of endearing pop. With only 30 minutes to play, the Brooklyn five-piece stuck mainly to material from their self-titled debut (a good thing), and with the setting sun as their backdrop, offered a stunning rendition of "Details of the War." Fitz and the Tantrums, meanwhile, upped the energy. The six-piece ensemble included a heavy dose of sax and harmonica, a "Sweet Dreams" cover, and some serious enthusiasm from vocalist and part-time hype woman Noelle Scaggs.
When Annie Clark, otherwise known as St. Vincent, took the stage, the ominously dim pavilion went electric. She covered the Pop Group's "She Is Beyond Good and Evil" and stage dove during "Krokodil." The Lake Highlands product clearly enjoyed being home, reminiscing on her time at Gexa, "drinking boxed wine and smoking menthol cigarettes on the lawn."
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The Flaming Lips were, well, the Flaming Lips. And by that I mean their show was a life-affirming spectacle unlike anything you'll ever see. Yes, Wayne Coyne crowd-surfed in his space bubble, the band entered the stage through a giant vagina, the stage was rife with balloons, confetti, dancing aliens, etc. As a long-time admirer, I expected all of those things going in. But after all these years, the Fearless Freaks still manage to surprise, and I've never left one of their shows not wanting to hug each and every person I see. Somewhere, that disgruntled usher and giant penguin probably felt the same.
By the way: The Pop Group's Mark Stewart once gave a dish scrubber to Annie Clark and said, "This is what's become of punk."
Personal bias: I am a Flaming Lips fanboy. As such, this review most certainly is biased.