Music Review

Lips show is a feast for the senses

By Marc Hirsh
Globe Correspondent / September 1, 2009

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If he’s not careful, a reviewer tasked with discussing a Flaming Lips concert could exhaust his allotted word count simply mentioning things like the giant bubble encapsulating frontman Wayne Coyne at the start of the concert; the inflatable butterfly-with-a-crown and catfish-in-nautical-garb costumes; and the cosmic video mother who, thanks to a judiciously placed door in the display, births the band members as they enter the stage.

But even if he has a soft spot for such things on account of his once having danced onstage with the band while dressed as a frog, all of it is, in the end, just stuff.

What made Sunday’s show at the Bank of America Pavilion was the way the Lips funneled their sense of joy and curiosity into the indelible riff at the heart of “The W.A.N.D.,’’ the booming lushness of “Race for the Prize,’’ and the rolling toms fueling the transcendent, rumbling gallop of “Pompeii Am Götterdämmerung.’’

If the human-size, confetti-filled balloons that cruised over the heads of the audience during “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song’’ mattered at all, it was as metaphor for the incredible amount of bouncing inertia driving the song. They certainly weren’t necessary for “See the Leaves,’’ with its whale-song guitar and relentless, groaning bass riff. Coyne ended the song with his hand in the air, closing his fist at the precise moment Steven Drozd’s guitar emitted one final feedback squeal.

The Lips closed with “Do You Realize??,’’ which looks more and more like the band’s anthem and mission statement as time goes on. The instruments blazed at what seemed to be full tilt all at once, a neat fit for a song about acknowledging our mortality and embracing the fleeting beauty of life as a result. Coyne repeated the final verse against a lone keyboard, the message clear with no gimmicks necessary.

Fellow Oklahomans Stardeath and White Dwarfs opened with a passable space-rock stomp. They were followed by Explosions in the Sky, whose instrumentals sent majestic curls of three-guitar sound wafting through the band’s ideal setting: the open air.

THE FLAMING LIPS With Explosions in the Sky, and Stardeath and White Dwarfs

At: Bank of America Pavilion, Sunday

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