Pitchfork 2009: The Flaming Lips

In a set that claimed to be part of Pitchfork’s Write The Night, festival closers The Flaming Lips managed to only play 11 songs.  What’s worse is that the setlist varied very little from the songs they have been playing live for the last six or so years.  After a lengthy 15 minute introduction that saw band members being hatched out of a woman’s womb via an onstage video screen and Wayne Coyne taking a stroll enclosed in his clear plastic ball, eventually they opened with “Race For The Prize.”

Throughout the set Coyne would quote where the song they were about to play ranked in the fan voting.  By his count the #25 song “Bad Days” was dedicated to Chicago Sun-Times pop critic Jim DeRogatis who Coyne recognized as being a longtime fan and champion of The Flaming Lips.  (He also authored their biography.)  It was a sincere moment within a night of banter that bordered on the sarcastic.  I lost track of how many times Coyne referred to Pitchfork and the festival as being “cool.”  His commentary hinted that the band begrudgingly participated in Write The Night claiming that these were the songs they would’ve played anyway.  However I doubt this was a set that any true Lips fans could get behind.  Only one song from The Soft Bulletin?  The ever-present “She Don’t Use Jelly?”  “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song?”  Really?

A sentiment I heard from a fan nearby was the need for, “Less talking and more rocking” from the band.  Amen!  There is no doubt that the stage theatrics and incomprehensible amount of confetti and balloons make for a spectacle, but somewhere along the way the Lips forgot to bring the tunes with them from Oklahoma.  Set closer “Do You Realize?” was and always will be an amazing song and has to be the oddest feel good sing-along around.

So following in the footsteps of last year when Spoon dropped the ball, Pitchfork closed with a disappointing performance.  On a positive note for the Lips future, new song “Silver Trembling Hands” truly sounded great.

Setlist:
Race For The Prize
-Silver Trembling Hands
Bad Days
Enthusiasm For Life
Yeah Yeah Yeah Song
Fight Test
-Convinced Of The Hex
Mountain Side
Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Pt. 1
She Don’t Use Jelly
Do You Realize?

(New songs indicated by dash)

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