A TWILIGHT ZONE: The Flaming Lips/BI_ank

The drive up to Ogden from Salt Lake took longer than I expected. Took a wrong turn getting on the freeway which oddly enough ended up savings us time due to an accident on I-15. I walked into the open-air amphitheater as the first act was already playing. It was the musical project BI_ank from Nashville Tennessee. The crisp June air clung tightly to the surrounding bodies, filing swiftly around in preparation for the first show of the Ogden Twilight summer concert series. Based on last years’ Salt Lake Twilight concerts, this series would be even bigger . Tonight, would begin a spectacular summer line-up with the emblematic neo-psychedelic rock band The Flaming Lips.

BI_ANK

BI_ank was a single musician drummer. His kit was rigged with a series of electronics, fx pedals, and other unknown gizmos. Despite his obvious talent, the music didn’t truly grab my attention. Songs showed potential but seemed to be lacking that key ingredient.

The Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips spared no expense in terms of showmanship. They came onto stage playing “Also Sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30” by Richard Strauss. One of the most epic entrances I’ve ever witnessed. Throughout the show, stagehands were used frequently to bring different props on stage. Giant inflatable objects such as a pink robot, a rainbow, and eyes and lips, brought to life the conceptual nature of their songs. Singer Wayne Coyne even rode a life-sized flashing unicorn around the audience, many aptly dressed as unicorns themselves.

The Music 

Each song was an entire production and a different experience in and of itself. Following the opening, The Flaming Lips played “Race for the Prize” and “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Part 1”. Their first 3 songs last nearly 30 minutes due to elongation and improvising. Coyne made frequent use of his microphone getting the crowd involved and asking them to see along. The audience, surely enough, did not disappoint.

The theatrics continued throughout The Flaming Lips’ setlist. During a cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”, Coyne hopped into a giant inflatable ball that rolled above the heads of the concertgoers. They were on stage for 1 hour 45 minutes playing 14 songs, of which, only 11 were originals.

The Mood of Twilight

The band left the stage briefly with the word “love” ringing out repeatedly over the loudspeakers. Amid chants and screams, The Flaming Lips returned to stage to finish with “Do You Realize??”. It was a well-planned and executed show that I particularly enjoyed and left me eagerly awaiting the next show of the Ogden Twilight series.

Octopus Project at Urban Lounge

Monday Night. In Utah, typically reserved for families, board games, and green Jell-O. For some they are better occupied listening to live music at Urban Lounge, Salt Lake City. Of course, I’ll choose the latter. Not too many people left their nieces and nephews on Jan 22 when The Octopus Project came to town. When I first walked in there were only about 10 other people, exactly the way I like it.

Intimate shows are the way to go. Small venues with the stage right in front of your face. No metal barriers dividing musicians and the audience.  This is how music should be played/watched. There are too many ultra-artists playing in those mega-domes and super-stadiums. And some guy payed $200 for him and his daughter to sit in section 317 row J. Anyway, enough with my rant. Back to the important stuff.

The first band was SLC natives Indigo Plateau. With two guitars, bass, drums, and vocals they have a pretty classic dream-pop/alt-rock sound. And they sound pretty good. Both guitarists use a variety of effects during song interludes creating a nice atmosphere. Their music doesn’t blow me away with originality but an altogether strong sound. They were a good opener, playing for about 30 minutes.

The second act was New Fumes from Dallas, TX. A single musician graced the stage. A guitar hung around their neck and was surrounded by a variety of electronic gismos and gadgets creating the rest of the music. The music was wildly experimental. The vocals were incomprehensible and drowned out by the sheer noise. You’d often loose sense of tempo and rhythm. It was on the verge of being something truly original and cool but wasn’t quite there.

Headlining the show was Octopus Project. I first heard about them through a friend just a few weeks prior. I looked them up on Spotify and really liked what I heard. They are an experimental neo-psychedelic band from Austin, TX with a noteworthy sound. On stage, they are incredibly talented. The four musicians move around from instrument to instrument, each playing multiple throughout their hour-long set. Three of them provide lead vocals on at least one song, but much of their music is instrumental. They seem to have a strong connection as a band and play off each other immaculately.

Octopus Project put it all into their performance. Band-member Josh Lambert opened the show saying, “I know it’s cold and it’s a Monday but let’s have a fucking awesome time together.”  And that we did. The crowd had grown considerably but was still sporadic. Nevertheless, people danced, whooped, and hollered. Yvonne Lambert played an electronic instrument called a Theremin, which is played without physical contact. All-in-all it was a delightful show with excellent music.

Music is often inspiring and can teach us important life lessons. But sometimes it doesn’t have a deeper meaning. Sometimes it’s just meant to be enjoyed. Seeing Octopus Project was a chance to simply enjoy some live music.