SXSW: The Flaming Lips debut new album, ‘The Terror,’ and it’s terrrrrrrible

Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips performs at Auditorium Shores during SXSW.

Yes, you read that headline correctly. The Flaming Lips took to the stage at SXSW’s Auditorium Shores to “give us something we’d all remember.” I wish I could forget the droning, sprawling mess of a set.

When it comes to The Flaming Lips, give me the spacey, fun, pop and rock side: “Yeah Yeah Yeah Song,” “Fight Test” and stuff like that. “Embryonic” and other darker side of “Dark Side of the Moon”-style atmospheric space noise is simply pointless noise to me.

Now, I wasn’t the only one that hated it. A lot of people seemed confused becasue this wasn’t the set they wanted to see. One out of every five people clapped after a song. Then again, some people freaked out in joy. The topless girl in the front row (who kept getting shown on the big video screen) seemed to love it, but I also think she was at least a little under the influence.

Enigmatic and (typically) entertaining frontman Wayne Coyne stood in front of the stage draped in rope lights and carrying a baby doll, which he often caressed and kissed. (No, I’m not making this up.)

Most songs involved a droning melody and a never-changing drum beat. Variations included some spacey guitar riffs (“Turning Violent”), ethereal vocals (Sarah Barthel of Phantogram guesting on “You Lust”) or heavy metal jamming (album-closer “Always There in Our Hearts”).

Title track “The Terror” at least had a cool bass line, but it got lost in the drony mess by the end of the song.

The whole thing, from Coyne’s baby (which I heard several fans remark derogatorily about) to the ceaselessly droning music, screamed “look at how different/artistic/weird/interesting we are.” It was that one kid in class who’s trying way too hard.

After “You Are Alone,” Coyne started philosophizing: “We’re all trapped in the isolation of our open minds. One of the only things that torture sometimes is… music, isn’t it? I think when we all sing and wonder if we’re all alone, I think we all know that we’re alone in the same way.” Eh, what?!

(Note: That was followed by someone screaming “Put the F-ing baby down!” I laughed.)

I can usually find something good in almost anything, even stuff I really don’t like, but I was at a loss here.

Luckily, the band came back after “The Terror” to play as much of “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots,” its best album, in the time remaining in the set. The Flaming Lips played the album in its entirety at a packed set the day before.

After adjusting some onstage, the band went into “Fight Test,” which saw the audience grooving and singing along. Next came “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1″ and the remaining fans screamed when it started. There was a beauty, also, in hearing so many people sing “Her name is Yoshimi…”

The set ended with Jim James, who opened the show with a solo set, joining Coyne and the Lips onstage to sing “Do You Realize?” (James sang while sitting at Coyne’s feet and caressing that damn baby doll.)

The “Yoshimi” segment only lasted about 30 minutes of the 90-plus-minute set, but it ended in a beautiful way with Coyne leading a slow singalong of the final line: “Do you realize you have the most beautiful face.”

“Love you guys,” Coyne said. “We’ll see you again. Let’s go get drunk.”

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6 Responses to SXSW: The Flaming Lips debut new album, ‘The Terror,’ and it’s terrrrrrrible

  1. Orange says:

    Lol…the new album is amazing. What the fuck are ya sayin’?? I love droning..I love noise..so what? And I love this album. I was kinda disappointed with their most pop released like The Soft Bulletin, Yoshimi and At War with the Mystics, but finally with Embryonic and onward, they started taking drugs again….

  2. Orange says:

    Ps. No Drama! You obviously are a fan of their pop stuff…It’s a matter of tastes ;)

  3. gg3113 says:

    I was there last night, as well. They were terrible. The review is completely fair. Even the RollingStone.com review said The Flaming Lips tested everyone’s patience with that set. I’ve seen the Lips three times. I’ll admit, they aren’t really my thing, but I’ve always been entertained. I couldn’t find the exits fast enough last night. From the looks of the streams of people racing me to get the heck out of there, I wasn’t the only one. They laid a huge, fat, stinky egg last night that left even my friends (who are huge fans of them) disappointed and ANGRY. Again, the review is completely fair given how bad last night’s show was.

    • JT says:

      I cant imagine the crowd that left would have liked them performing Embryonic either. They came with a certain expectation for them, wanting a certain commercial Lips. Instead they got the Lips thats trying to freak out people on acid. It was a spectacle. I was entert
      ained.

  4. You'rewrong says:

    The Terror is beautiful, this review is terribly biased and written badly, and I think it’s safe to say you have some kind of autism.