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flag US - Oklahoma - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 22 - 08/08/98

The Flaming Lips
Stubb's, Austin, August 1st 1998

Here are the numbers: Boom-Box Experiment No.4, 40 pawnshop boomboxes, 7 musical pieces, Quadraphonic Surround Sound, and not nearly enough enormous, informative programs for the audience (myself included). Supposedly, with Ronald's departure, the Lips are no longer 'just' doing songs. Tonight, they presented a listening experience along the same lines as Zaireeka, with these seven musical experiments. And for being mere experiments, they were more successful than not.

After two tests, the evening legitimately commenced with The Big Ol' Bug is the New Baby Now (probably switched the words a bit), an intense disorienting wall o' sound (I ain't talking no Phil Spector here) that proved (to me at least) that the Lips themselves would once again be the drug of choice for the night, creating huge aural hallucinations that left me in a puddle on the lawn at Stubb's.

The next piece was a meditation of sorts on the cruelty of nature (the story is too harrowing to reproduce here), and the source tapes included taped-down chord organ keys amongst an orchestral duel between wailing sirens and car crashes. In the midst of the piece it became fairly obvious that the only control anyone had over the sounds themselves was in the volume knob, and nothing more. In one way it limited the palette considerably, for Wayne, Michael, and Stephen could only bring stuff up or down, but with the boomboxes cranked to 10, all the sounds began to tear and distort, revealing the extreme limits of reproduced sound itself. This distortion led to some intense listening moments.

The highlight of the night for me came in the only legit "song" of the night, an early Daniel Johnston sounding number (complete with lyrics lifted from a suicide note) for voice, guitar, and piano plink, getting devoured alive by a pirahnic maelstrom of howling babies, their cries disfigured beyond any human resemblance. When the storm subsided, there were some innocent coos emitted from the straggler boomboxes.

The show ended with Altruism, or That's the Crotch Calling the Devil Black, which was simply dozens of loops of Meg Ryan's "faking" scene from When Harry Met Sally. A couple of friends thought it was a trite ending to the night, but the combination of slowed orgasmic moans and piles upon piles of gruesome noise, completely struck me as a piece of fuckery that was far closer to something like (LAFMS member) Joe Potts' Gift From the Dead, than She Don't Use Jelly. A Pops concert complete with tape hiss.

Copyright © 1998 Andy Beta e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Flaming Lips articles/reviews: The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends, The Terror, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots.

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