June 9, 2023

The Flaming Lips played Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots at Kings Theatre

The Flaming Lips played all of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots at Brooklyn's Kings Theatre and cemented its place as a definitive album of a generation and a decade.

"Keep it going! More! More!" shouted Wayne Coyne, the primary musician and leader of The Flaming Lips for over three decades, as he led his band on stage backed by a bright purple glow. As the band members embarked to their instruments, the lights darkened and a wall of LED lights began to flash as the opening to "Flight Test" boomed over the crowd. As soon as the band hit their cues, the audience erupted with applause and total euphoria, a sensation that would last for about three more hours as the band delivered their most beloved album from start to finish. Upon its arrival in 2002, Yoshimi was immediately heralded as a tremendous work of art and the concept album of the new millennium. Drawing from prog and psych-rock, the band's tale of a young girl fighting alien robots became a cult hit that was a gateway record for many into a world beyond pop and alt-radio. Listing to Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots was how I imagined kids in the '70s felt about listening to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon for the first time, a trip to outer space and a psychedelic odyssey that pushed the boundaries of music far beyond anything I'd ever heard before and opened my ears far beyond my wildest imagination. Hearing it come to life was a transcendental experience that surpassed even my deepest hopes and dreams and affirmed just how life changing music really can be.The title track got the first big roar of the night and giant, pink inflatable robots rose from the floor while a swirling technicolor background served as the host for the lyrics to every song of the night, allowing everyone to sing along with absolute perfection. The crowd chanting back the karate chops was a resounding joy and unifying moment and it provided one of the first massive crowd participations of the night. As the album progressed, the visuals continued their kaleidoscopic vantages as laser beams pierced the screen to provide a rainbow effect across the already gorgeous theatre. "Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell" took a turn to the more spaced-out psych vibes and "Are You a Hypnotist" put a spell over us all, transfixing everyone with a twisted bass line that grabbed hold and refused to let go. "It's Summertime" felt particularly sentimental after New Yorker's spent the first week of June trapped indoors to escape hazardous air and beautifully transitioned into the back section of the record. "This is a warning" Wayne stated before the next track as he encouraged everyone to capitalize on the moment and recognize those with you before it's too late and acknowledge the important relationships while you have the time. As the band played "Do You Realize??" an inflatable rainbow rose from the stage while an assortment of colors dripped on the screen. As the crowd recited the words "And instead of saying all of your goodbyes / Let them know you realize that life goes fast / It's hard to make the good things last" it was hard not to be taken aback and succumb to the feelings at hand, grasp the concept of mortality, and just be thankful to experience a moment such as this one. "All We Have Is Now" and "Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon (Utopia Planitia)" acted as appropriate comedowns before the band took a break to reset and deliver a whole new set of emotions and unabashed intensity. The pure nirvana set forth by the album was only accentuated when played live and it felt like the most encouraging and life affirming music that could set forth a new found purpose. Coming back to the stage, the band blasted through their breakthrough '90s jam "She Don't Use Jelly" for which they unleashed giant, brightly colored balloons over the crowd that burst to distribute confetti over everyone. For the second set, the band dug through their vast discography to deliver more delectable jams that saw more elaborate visuals and more sustained sonic frequencies of epic proportions. "Silver Trembling Hands" brought out the drone-y moments of the night which the band kept up through their excellent cover of Madonna's classic "Borderline," which took on new shapes and dimensions that still brought the groove and worked the moment. During "My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion," Wayne took a lightbulb and swung it Roger Daltry-style over the crowd, whipping it around his head with an everlasting grin as he fed off the crowd's rush of affection. "Race for the Prize" was the blow-out finale that topped-off the evening with one final moment of splendid joy full of dizzying guitar and swinging synths. It capped off a night that will forever reign amongst the best and confirmed the thoughts I had so long ago. To see an album that defined a time and inspired a generation played in full is already a rare, yet mighty experience, but to see it executed with astounding perfection followed by a psyched-out set of astronomical proportions is next level. The Flaming Lips delivered in all possible capacities and proved that through their music, anything can feel possible and everything is worth celebrating.

Set list:

01 "Fight Test"
02 "One More Robot/Sympathy 3000-21"
03 "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1"
04 "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 2"
05 "In the Morning of the Magicians"
06 "Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell"
07 "Are You a Hypnotist??"
08 "It's Summertime"
09 "Do You Realize??"
10 "All We Have Is Now"
11 "Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon (Utopia Planitia)"
12 "She Don't Use Jelly"
13 "Silver Trembling Hands"
14 "How??"
15 "Always There, In Our Hearts"
16 "Assassins of Youth"
17 "Will You Return / When You Come Down"
18 "Borderline" [Madonna cover]
29 "Pompeii Am Götterdämmerung"
20 "My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion"
21 "A Spoonful Weighs a Ton"
22 "Race for the Prize"

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